Member for Northern Region Wendy Lovell was back in Mildura today, accompanied by Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Shadow Minister for Education and Regional Cities, Cindy McLeish.

By JOHN DOOLEY

MEMBER for Northern Region Wendy Lovell was back in Mildura today, accompanied by Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Shadow Minister for Education and Regional Cities, Cindy McLeish, where they called on the Government to do more for our region.

Ms Lovell said that she and the Deputy Leader had been visiting local schools in the region including Robinvale P-12 College and Red Cliffs Secondary College.

“In addition to our schools visit we have also met with Mildura Rural City Council to discuss a number of issues and to hear about their priorities,” she said.

“We were in Robinvale this morning, particularly looking at the work they are doing to increase the capacity at the school, and to address the disadvantage in that community. 

“The work they are doing is really interesting, but of course there is only one public school option there, and so it’s important that it’s resourced adequately to ensure that it caters for all students in that community.

Ms Lovell said that while the school was doing a tremendous job with the resources they have, the State Government needed to step up and provide additional support.

“Greater resources would help the school to attract more staff, and to assist them to run more of the sorts of programs they are running, which are addressing some of the challenges that they have in their community.

Ms Lovell said she was also delighted to be at the Robinvale School to see the early childhood facility that was provided under funding from the previous State Coalition Government.

“I actually funded that when I was the Minister, and it was the first time that I had seen it in operation, and it was fantastic to see and to hear of the outcomes that are being achieved in that community because of good early childhood education opportunities,” she said.  

Ms McLeish said that her aim is to ensure that Victoria’s regional cities are modernised and have all of the services that they require, and that includes Mildura.

“Part of achieving that is education, a lot of it is connectivity, whether that’s telecommunications, reliable internet and mobile phone coverage or transport infrastructure, roads and rail,” she said.

“It’s really important for people to be mobile and to be able to get around easily. It’s also to have that strong sense of community, and that’s one of the things that we saw at Robinvale today, the school is really reaching out into that community to achieve better outcomes for everybody.

“What we do know is that schools in regional Victoria have poorer outcomes than those in the city. I think this really needs to be addressed, and so it’s really good to get to areas like Mildura, like Robinvale and Red Cliffs to actually have the opportunity to talk to the principals of the schools, and to understand what it is that they need, and what they think can be improved.”

Ms McLeish spoke of the need to have good, reliable rail connectivity for both passenger and freight, something that has been a hot topic of conversation in our region this year with the recent stalling of the Murray Basin Rail Project.

“I think the Government are really showing their true colours by being so city-centric, and the Murray Basin Rail Project being put on hold, highlights their failures.

“There’s a lot of talk in Parliament about why that’s constantly happening, because when they run out of money in Melbourne, they find the money. When they run out of money on country projects, they seem to park the project, and that’s not good enough.

“Places like Mildura, that are a little bit out of the way, really need to be looked after.”

Ms Lovell said that Daniel Andrews has to answer for his broken promise to regional Victorians.

“He told us that the Basin Rail Project would be fully funded, and now he’s telling us that there’s no funding to do it,” she said. “However they’re finding more and more projects in Melbourne. 

“The money that they gained from the sale of the Port of Melbourne could be used to finish this project. It was built off the back of country communities and what they provide in produce for export, and yet country Victoria is getting a very poor return from that sale, most of it is being invested in Melbourne.”

Ms Lovell also spoke about the Mildura Base Hospital and recent calls by the Deputy Premier James Merlino and Member for Northern Region Mark Gepp for the hospital to be returned into public hands.  

“We know that Ramsay’s have offered $13million for additional infrastructure, we know that there are some benefits around having Ramsay’s management in attracting specialists to the community,” Ms Lovell said.

“We don’t know what the public model would look like, and we need to know for certain that this is going to deliver an outcome for this community that is better than the service that we have now.”