The Federal Government needs to embrace all forms of investment to improve regional supply chain infrastructure, Federal Treasury secretary John Fraser told the VFF Grains Conference in Horsham last week.
Mr Fraser spoke about the importance of investment in rural infrastructure investment as population growth in regional centres is expected to grow in the coming years.
VFF Grains Group president Rodd Johns said funding was needed to ensure regional infrastructure could cope with future demands.
‘‘Regional Victoria is facing a number of infrastructure priorities, challenges and opportunities,’’ Mr Johns said.
‘‘We need federal support to improve the state’s rail freight network, roads and bridges, and telecommunications infrastructure, and in Victoria we’re not getting enough bang from our taxes to fund these projects.’’
The discussions come after Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development official Mark Thomann told the Senate Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport last week that Victoria would only receive 7.7 per cent of the $26.5billion federal infrastructure budget from 2016 to 2020.
Mr Johns said the figure showed the Federal Government was taking Victoria for granted.
‘‘We produce 27 per cent of Australia’s food and fibre exports, and Victoria is home to a quarter of the country’s population, yet we’re getting less than 10 per cent of the Federal Government infrastructure budget,’’ he said.
‘‘This does not make us competitive compared to other states and we need to look seriously at investment opportunities.’’
Mr Johns said there had been a number of projects criticised at the conference, with heat restrictions on the V/Line service and the progress of the Murray Basin Rail Project top of the list.
‘‘Farmers are constantly investing in new technology to become more efficient and remain competitive in world markets while we have a rail network that can’t operate in temperatures over 33 degrees,’’ he said.
‘‘A railway that is shut down on moderately hot days during harvest is hardly a ‘fit for purpose’ system.’’