QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE AND MINISTERS STATEMENTS MINISTERS STATEMENTS: REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT

Mr PALLAS (Treasurer) (11:33:00) — It gives me great pleasure to rise to update the house on the government’s record of creating jobs right across the state of Victoria, but particularly in regional and rural Victoria. The regional unemployment rate now sits at an astoundingly low 4.4 per cent—the lowest regional unemployment rate in the nation, where the regional rate now sits at 5.2 per cent. It shows just how far regional Victoria has come under the Andrews Labor government. We inherited a regional unemployment rate of 6.7 per cent from the now Leader of the Opposition. When we came into government we promised that we would deliver infrastructure to every corner of Victoria. For the past four years that is exactly what we have done. In fact we have invested $13.6 billion in regional Victoria. Just for a comparison, that is almost twice what those opposite managed to invest. This is on the back of massive infrastructure investment, our new hospitals and our upgrades to almost 1300 schools right across the state, and of course our landmark reform of halving payroll tax for regional employers, a policy so good that those opposite tried to copy it. Over 65 000 regional Victorians have found a job since Labor was elected. That is over six times the measly growth the Liberal and National parties managed to achieve when they were in government. Only 8500 jobs were created in their entire term in government, and if you were a full-time employee, they went backwards to the tune of 14 100 jobs. That is no surprise when you look at their current form—trying to block the West Gate Tunnel project, a project that will create vital jobs for regional Victoria, like the $600 million precast facility being built at Benalla with 400 new jobs.