Regional Victorians from across the central and western parts of the state have sent a clear message to Spring Street ahead of November’s election: don’t leave the bush behind.
Through a groundbreaking survey conducted by Fairfax Media, almost 3000 regional Victorians laid out what will be most important to them when they head to the polls on November 24.
The survey revealed ensuring health, education and transport spending was on par with metropolitan Melbourne was of most importance to regional voters, along with a strong desire to see more emphasis placed on jobs creation.
Read on to see how people across the state feel about issues including education, roads, jobs and more. See Ballarat’s results here.
With Melbourne leading the nation in economic and population growth, regional Victorians have made clear their desire to get in on the action.
In questions relating to economic development and jobs creation, those surveyed were emphatic in their desire for a better deal in the regions.
Respondents gave a resounding endorsement for the decentralisation of public sector offices, with 73.27 per cent agreeing with the statement ‘government departments and staff should be relocated from metropolitan areas to my community’.
The poll also showed a clear concern around the regions’ best and brightest leaving home in search of superior employment opportunities.
More than 74 per cent of respondents agreed ‘private businesses should be provided with defined financial incentives to establish in my community’.
More than 81 percent of those polled said ‘employers in my community should receive financial incentives to recruit and retain local secondary school leavers’.
Particularly pertinent for university towns such as Warrnambool, Bendigo and Ballarat was the whopping 86 per cent who agreed ‘regional and rural students should receive more financial support to attend university or vocational education’.
With both parties eager to spruik their infrastructure outlook ahead of the November 24 poll, regional Victorians are out to ensure the spend is not limited to the metropolitan border.
Voters from central and western Victoria have made it clear they believe appropriate spending in the regions can help to attract a greater slice of the city’s population growth, turning a metropolitan problem into a country opportunity.
More than 67 per cent of voters surveyed disagreed with the claim ‘the roads in my community are safe and in good condition’, while 64.19 per cent disagreed to the statement ‘enough is being done to ensure the central business district of my community is a safe and attractive place to visit’.
Debate around energy infrastructure could also be important in winning the hearts and minds of regional voters come November, with 73.1 per cent of those polls agreeing ‘more green energy projects, such as wind farms and solar farms, should be supported in my community’.
When asked to rank a series of topics on priority between not important and very important, more than 92 per cent of respondents listed regional development as important or very important.
Across the survey which ran over three weeks, regional Victorians highlighted their concerns about the difference in service delivery and outcomes between Melbourne and the rest of the state.
On the sliding scale of importance, health was by far the highest priority for respondents, with 98.58 per cent of people ranking the subject important or very important.
More than 70 per cent of those polled believed public hospitals in their region didn’t receive adequate funding to deliver the right level of care, while a whopping 80.7 per cent agreed ‘health professionals be provided with greater incentives to work in my community’.
Similarly, education evoked a 94.75 per cent important or very important response from those surveyed, highlighting a clear priority in regional interests. More than 67 per cent of people believed public schools in their area needed a funding boost to help achieve better results.
Other key issues
The evergreen election issue of crime again looks set to be a feature in the bid to win regional votes, with almost 92 per cent of respondents calling the matter important or very important.
Meanwhile a host of social issues including community housing and the impact of poker machines on problem gambling were also identified as key battlegrounds as regional Victorians prepare to cast their ballot.