Population policy taskforce
Mr O'Sullivan (Northern Victoria) — The Liberal and Nationals population task force recently convened in Shepparton to discuss with community leaders the ongoing challenges faced by the local community and how they can be best addressed. Victoria's population is increasing by about 100 000 people every year, and about 90 000 of those residents make Melbourne their home. Melbourne is overcrowded now, and with a combined population of Mildura and Shepparton moving to Melbourne each year we need to introduce plans which will take the pressure off Melbourne and bring new residents to regional Victoria. People who live in or visit Melbourne will know that the roads are very congested now, crime rates are through the roof, livability is declining and housing is unaffordable for many. Regional Victoria provides a great opportunity for these people to take up residency in the country areas.
The Victorian population task force is focused on developing a plan that will outline the desired investment required to facilitate more people deciding to live in regional centres such as Shepparton, Benalla, Mildura, Echuca and Wangaratta. The population task force in Shepparton discussed a whole range of issues, including better transport connections to and from Melbourne, required hospital upgrades, the need to capitalise on agricultural industries moving into China and inland freight requirements.
The Victorian population task force is chaired by the member for Kew in the Legislative Assembly, Tim Smith, and the deputy chair is Danny O'Brien, the member for Gippsland South in the Legislative Assembly. They journeyed to Shepparton for the task force. I would also like to thank Ms Lovell for her efforts in bringing that population task force together in Shepparton.