When the Andrews Labor Government was elected, we promised to put people first. As our state begins its recovery from the global pandemic, people will continue to be our priority.

The Victorian Budget 2020/21 delivers on the investments that will see our community recover – and come back even stronger.

As kids get back into the classroom, this Budget delivers the single biggest investment ever in our schools – making sure students have the classrooms, libraries and learning spaces they deserve.

This includes $10.99 million for Kyneton High School, with students to benefit from an upgrade, including a modernisation to Block J. The Government’s investment will also support local jobs, with our school infrastructure build expected to create more than 6,400 jobs across the state.

To further cement our state’s status as Australia’s cultural capital, this Budget is investing in the creativity of our local community. That includes $12 million to build a new exhibition space at the Old Kyneton Primary School and upgrade existing facilities, making it a new home for art exhibitions and a space for the whole community to enjoy.

The Labor Government is also investing $465 million through the Victorian Tourism Recovery Package‘ to attract more visitors to regional Victoria – supporting local jobs and making sure more Victorian families can experience the best our state has to offer. That includes $13.2 million for regional tourism boards to coordinate regional tourism efforts in our local area. This investment will help bring more tourists, and their tourism dollars, to grow our economy, create jobs and benefit our community.

This Budget will also invest in works to protect the Lerderderg River from invasive plants and pests -– making sure these rivers remains healthy and available for our community.

We’re also delivering the biggest investment in public and community housing in Australia, ever. This investment will build more than 12,000 new homes – making sure thousands of Victorians have a place to call home, and thousands more Victorians have a job. Macedon Ranges Shire is a priority area for investment, with procurement starting straight away to build new homes.

And to help get more Victorians back into work, the Labor Government is setting itself an ambitious target – creating 400,000 new jobs by 2025, half of them by 2022.

Our new Jobs for Victoria initiative will help locals find a new job – and with it, security, stability and certainty. This includes $250 million to partner with employers to cover the wages of at least 10,000 new workers. These positions will be for Victorians hardest hit by this pandemic, including women, young people, retrenched workers and people who have been long-term unemployed.

This investment will also deliver targeted and tailored support for those who need it – such as mentoring, career counselling or more intensive support.

And because we know too many Victorians are having to choose between going to work sick and losing wages, the Labor Government will invest $5 million to develop a new Secure Work Pilot Scheme. Once in place, the two-year pilot will provide up to five days of sick and carer’s pay at the national minimum wage for casual or insecure workers in priority industries.

We’re preparing regional Victoria for a strong recovery by investing in major projects across our cities, towns and communities. Extra funding will be provided to the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund as part of this year’s Budget – boosting our regional industries, such as food and fibre and manufacturing, and supporting local jobs.

This year’s Budget will help nearly one million families save hundreds on their power bill. Concession card holders, such as Victorians receiving JobSeeker payments, will be eligible for a one-off $250 payment to help cover the cost of their energy bills.

An extra 250,000 low-income households will benefit from new more efficient heating and cooling, while heating, cooling or hot water systems will be upgraded across an extra 35,000 social housing homes – reducing bills for tenants and making winter and summer more comfortable.

The Labor Government’s Solar Homes will also be expanded to an extra 42,000 rooftop solar rebates plus 14,500 solar batteries, cutting power bills for local families. And for the very first time, small businesses will also be eligible.

The Labor Government will also invest in clean energy projects across our state – including new Renewable Energy Zones to generate, store and transmit energy – while also creating thousands of regional jobs.

Even with kids back at school, the balancing act that many families know all too well isn’t easy. That’s why this Budget will make kinder free in 2021 and deliver outside school hours care at up to 400 extra schools, saving parents money and giving them greater flexibility when it comes to work and care.

2020 has also reminded us of what matters most in life – the health and wellbeing of the people we love. As we begin our state’s recovery, that will continue to be our focus.

This Budget will ensure Victorians have the mental health support they need as we get on with fixing a broken system.  That includes nearly $870 million for mental health, including to implement the Royal Commission into Mental Health’s interim report findings and recommendations and deliver care for local families.

We’re also investing more than $1 billion for children and families at risk, including targeted support to help families stay together. A further $235 million will build our Recovery Workforce, creating 500 new jobs across mental health, family violence, health and child protection with hundreds more new training opportunities, so Victorians have the support they need as we recover from this pandemic.

We also want to make sure we continue to give patients flexibility in their care, allowing them to choose what is best for them and their families. This Budget will invest $121 million for ‘Better at Home’, increasing the delivery of hospital services in patients’ homes – ensuring these Victorians can recuperate in the comfort of their own home. We’ll also strengthen and expand virtual care technology, making it easier for busy families and patients in regional and rural communities to access support.

This is a Budget to repair, recover and make us stronger than before. This is a Budget, and a Government, that puts people first.

Quotes attributable to Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas

“2020 has reminded us of what matters most. It’s why this Budget invests in the safety and security of our family, friends and neighbours.”

“This much-needed upgrade to Kyneton High School will ensure our kids have a great local school and create new local jobs.”