Nationals Member for Mildura, Jade Benham, says the biggest emergency facing her region’s first responders is rundown facilities and equipment way beyond its use-by date.
Ms Benham says everyone knows next month’s Andrews Labor government budget will be filled with red ink as the Premier’s Big Bill disaster in Melbourne drives the state towards bankruptcy, but no sane government would risk the efficiency of emergency services to cover its tracks.
And she says her region’s emergency services need to be at the front of the queue for whatever cash is left in the state coffers.
“After selling out to his union cronies and gutting the CFA, the least Daniel Andrews can do is fund safe, modern facilities to support local emergency personnel, most of who are selfless volunteers doing lifesaving work,” Ms Benham adds.
“Blown budget or not, targeted investments must still be made in critical areas such as regional Victoria’s emergency services,” she says.
Ms Benham met with Birchip local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer Gail Sharp who has put endless hours into serving her community and is worried about the future safety of her town and surrounding properties.
The town’s current CERT vehicle is housed behind the local bakery, with no secure location being made available.
“Even worse, the CFA shed can no longer fit the CFA truck, and is also in desperate need of urgent upgrades,” Ms Benham says.
“And the lack of SES infrastructure is just a complete joke,” she says.
“Victorians know our other local emergency services are also in urgent need of funding. We already have unacceptable ambulance wait times plaguing our health system.
“Regional Victorians know what it is to face major flooding events, bushfires, and other disasters and our under-equipped and overworked volunteers don’t deserve to work harder just to cover this government’s failings,” Ms Benham says.
“With cuts to community health initiatives already announced by Daniel Andrews, Victorians will be more vulnerable than ever and investment in emergency services is vital.’
Ms Benham says at the 2022 election, Daniel Andrews promised to “govern for all Victorians”.
She says now is his chance to prove it, by making sure his government looks after the whole state, not just the billions and billions of taxpayer dollars being wasted on inner city voters.
“Cuts to front line services are unacceptable and more investment to support regional emergency services must be a priority.”