After treasurer and Werribee MP Tim Pallas handed down the state budget last week, he sat down with Star Weekly’s Charlene Macaulay and Adem Saban to discuss what was in it for the west.

 

What can we expect from the new technical school to be based at the Victoria University Werribee campus?

You’ll be able to get the skills in the areas you’re interested in, while still being part of a mainstream secondary school.

There’s still a bit of work being done around exactly what it’s likely to offer. I think we can expect [traditional] trades and, hopefully, a lot of emerging trades going forward … and that means looking at IT skills and “connectedness” skills, around how people share and access information.

 

In last year’s budget, you set aside funding to secure the land for a new 10-12 school in Point Cook South. There was no funding in the budget for this project. When is construction of this school expected to be completed?

We’re currently working on securing the purchase of this site, near the Saltwater estate. Funding has also been allocated to purchase land for a new Sanctuary Lakes South P-9 school.

In addition, the new Point Cook South P-9 school will open next year, providing immediate relief to the growth pressures being experienced in Point Cook. It’s a pretty big budget when it comes to capital for schools.

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How much of the $52 million Dohertys Road upgrade announced will be funded in 2016-17 and when will construction start?

Planning will start mid-2016, construction will start early 2017. The 2016-17 financial year is expected to see $2.43 million out of the $52 million spent.

Basically, this coming financial year will be planning and pre-construction works, which obviously cost less. Significantly more money will be spent in the following years as construction gears up. The project isn’t expected to be finished within this term of government but will certainly be well advanced.

 

According to a Wyndham council traffic volumes report released earlier this week, 21 Wyndham roads are at capacity, 17 of which have been at capacity for the past five years. What’s the plan to address this in future budgets?

The plan is to try to run sufficient surpluses and have sufficient capacity that we can continue our record infrastructure spend.

One thing I hope people can appreciate is that everybody has to get their fair share of budget allocations and there’s no more deserving areas than growth areas, where the pressure of the growing population is being felt most acutely.

 

For the second year running, the government is offering up $50 million for the Growing Suburbs Fund, of which Wyndham will be a recipient. How will money be allocated?

There’s been no change to the criteria. We’ve had a little bit of trouble, I think, with getting sufficient quality proposals coming out of local government. We’re going to work a bit closer with them in terms of making sure the guidelines are right.

We want to help councils identify the projects that are within the criteria and if that means opening up the criteria to get a broader range of options, we’ll look at that.

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There’s $3 million in this budget for the new multi-disciplinary centre in Wyndham. What is planned for the facility?

Multi-disciplinary centres give victims, many of whom also suffer family violence, a safe place to quickly get the help they need. The MDC is a one-stop support from police, child protection workers and counsellors.

Services will help victims report their assault and receive treatment, counselling and legal advice. Victims can also be referred to the MDC by local agencies or health services.

 

When exactly will the Footscray Hospital South Block “urgent upgrade” take place and be completed? Why has the long-called-for hospital redevelopment and emergency department expansion not been funded and is there any prospect of it taking place before the next election?

We recognise the need is an urgent one. We put money into planning and upkeep and maintenance and we know that’s a short-term solution.

We need the plans for the development of the facility completed and, hopefully, that will take a year and we need to do what we can as soon as possible.

You don’t put money into planning unless you’re serious about getting on and delivering.

Once the hospital’s ready to go with a developable plan, then I think we’ll be very keen to get on and do it.

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Why was there no financial commitment to the electrification of the Ballarat railway line from Melton to Deer Park? And when can residents expect the line to be electrified?

There was money put aside for a planning study into that. We’re doing duplication from Melton to Deer Park and we need to duplicate first.

 

Moorabool council is currently applying for a 3.5 per cent rates variation (above the 2.5 per cent cap) to fund a number of vital roads projects in the area but missed out on significant funding for road works in this budget. Why?

There was $12.4 million for Melton roads. It’s mostly a federal investment, but there’s money in there for Halletts Way.

It’s a start and we recognise that it’s an ongoing effort.