The 2021/22 Victorian Budget has invested nearly $44 million towards water sector initiatives that will improve the health of key waterways and provide immediate benefits to regional economies, as well as a $110 million investment in essential energy functions, safer powerlines and Zero Emissions Vehicles.
$24.5 million will be devoted to helping regional economies in East Gippsland and North East Victoria recover from the pandemic and bushfires.
Works will be funded at eight Flagship Waterway sites including the Mitchell, mid‑Goulburn, Hopkins, Mitta Mitta and the lower Wimmera rivers, the Murray and Loddon system, Kings Billabong and Corner Inlet and its tributaries.
These works are expected to create around 90 jobs in regional areas over three years.
“An investment in our waterways is an investment in the future of our state – we cannot take these gifts from nature for granted. We must continue to protect them in every way we can,” Victorian Acting Minister for Water, Richard Wynne, said.
As part of this $24.5 million investment in regional areas, $7.5 million will go to supporting community projects to boost the health of the Gippsland Lakes, along with $5 million to improve Victoria’s Ramsar wetlands.
The Budget has also allocated $8.4 million to help manage water flows in irrigation districts and boost projects that deliver water infrastructure.
A further $8.5 million will be provided to manage contaminated groundwater in Bendigo and support work on a sustainable solution for Bendigo’s Historic Mine Workings.
A $2.5 million investment will strengthen compliance and enforcement when it comes to water theft, supporting the State Government’s zero‑tolerance approach, maintaining confidence in water reliability for entitlement holders and addressing the risks posed by climate change to water availability.
“Victoria’s waterways drive eco‑tourism, support farmers and underpin local economies. By protecting our waterways, we’re supporting local communities, their quality of life and their livelihoods,” Mr Wynne said.
The 2021/22 Budget also builds on the record $1.6 billion Clean Energy Package in the 2020/21 Budget while enhancing Victoria’s energy security and lowering powerline-related bushfire risk.
The government has provided $62.9 million to maintain essential energy functions while ensuring that retailers respect the rights of vulnerable customers through the Energy Fairness Plan.
Another $46 million will fund a $3,000 subsidy for Victorians who purchase Zero Emissions Vehicles.
The Budget has also committed to strengthening the Powerline Bushfire Safety Program (PBSP), with $1.5 million allocated to continue the delivery of safe powerlines to the Victorian community, including a business case development for future technology-led investment that reduces powerline-related bushfire risk.