Our slice of pie
We’ll get a bit of a taste from yesterday’s state budget WANGARATTA residents can expect to benefit from millions of dollars’ worth of investments announced yesterday in the 2017-18 Victorian budget. Several million dollars is on its way to Tourism North East to implement its cycling optimisation project, while a small portion of $311.1 million in funding will go towards major re-designing of a VLocity train set for the North East rail line. Meanwhile, the Murray Darling Basin Authority received $5.2 million for environmental programs in Northern Victoria. The local funding comes after Premier Daniel Andrews last month confirmed Wangaratta SES would receive $1.6m in the budget to build a new local headquarters next door to the CFA station in Handley Street. There were also some disappointments for the rural city, with Wangaratta and District Specialist School again missing out on government funding to expand its Appin Street school. Statewide, the budget allows for an historic $1.9 billion investment into family violence, implementing recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence. A $2 billion investment into Victoria Police will also see 3000 new police officers trained and deployed around the state. Meanwhile, $42.5 million has been set aside for the Victorian Gas Program to assess the potential for onshore conventional gas exploration to be completed by 2020 when the moratorium ends. Regional businesses are also set to benefit, with payroll tax cuts for regional businesses set to go from 4.85 per cent down to 3.65 per cent. The budget is expected to bring a $1.2 billion surplus to Victoria. More stories pages 2, 3 Inflation rate helps leave interest rates unchanged INTEREST rates will remain unchanged at 1.5 per cent, the Reserve Bank of Australia announced yesterday. The decision came as the bank’s board backed its previous predictions that economic growth would gradually continue “in the next couple of years”. “Inflation picked up to above two per cent in the March quarter in line with the bank’s expectations,” governor of monetary policy decision Philip Lowe’s statement reads. “In underlying terms, inflation is running at around 1.75 per cent, a little higher than last year. “A gradual further increase in underlying inflation is expected as the economy strengthens.” Waiting times slashed for surgery patients PATIENTS in Wangaratta are spending less time waiting for surgery and emergency care than they were 12 months ago. Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) this week released the statistics along with improved ambulance wait times, saying the three months to March had also delivered “the best ever emergency department performance since the ‘four hour target’ was introduced”. Northeast Health Wangaratta admitted 1833 emergency patients in the three months to the end of March – up from 1758 emergency admissions a year earlier. In the same time frame, 6237 patients presented to the emergency department, up from 5859 presentations in the same quarter in 2016. The hospital was also able to reduce the number of patients on the elective surgery waiting list – from 808 at the end of the March 2016 quarter to 703 at the end of March this year. Additionally, an extra 96 patients were treated from the elective surgery waiting list in the March quarter, compared with the waiting list admissions in the same period a year earlier. The state government last month announced $15.2 million through the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund for Northeast Health Wangaratta to build a new 12-bed critical care unit, increasing the capacity of the current unit by an extra four beds. The additional beds will support more patients in need of specialist intensive care and life support. The project will also see the expansion of the emergency department and the relocation of the oncology unit, alongside other works including the construction of a new medical records building. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.