What the 2020 state budget means for Victorians

Living Well | RACV | Images: Getty, Alamy, Matt Harvey | Posted on 25 November 2020

The Victorian Government has pitched an ambitious plan for the 2020 budget.

RACV general manager of corporate affairs, Bryce Prosser says the 2020 budget, the biggest in the state’s history, aims to provide a springboard to create jobs, strengthen communities and boost Victoria’s energy resilience.

He says, given RACV’s own substantial commitment to renewable power through RACV Solar, it is encouraging to see the government’s $1.6-billion investment in a raft of clean energy measures, including rebates to help Victorian households and businesses switch to solar and more efficient appliances.

Rows of houses with solar panels on the roof

A $1.6-billion investment in renewable energy, including generous rebates, will help Victorians cut power bills by supporting them to make the switch to solar and energy efficient appliances.


RACV has long been a strong advocate for many of these initiatives, which will not only give people a much greater choice in how they get around but also set up Victoria for a cleaner energy future.

Substantial investment in public transport, including the Airport Rail Link and the Suburban Rail Loop, as well as funding for new electric vehicles infrastructure, also put long-term clean energy solutions at the centre of the government’s plans to rebuild the economy, says Bryce. 

“RACV has long been a strong advocate for many of these initiatives, which will not only give people a much greater choice in how they get around but also set up Victoria for a cleaner energy future.”

RACV is encouraged by the  budget’s focus on strengthening communities, through investment in social housing, stimulating regional tourism and funding grassroots infrastructure projects, such as community playgrounds and safer roads.

We asked RACV’s policy experts to shed some light on the budget announcements.

Couple walking along the beach

$465 million will be invested to support Victorian tourism.


Electric car charging at fast-charge station

$9 million will go towards new fast-charging infrastructure for electric cars. 


 

Electric car charging at fast-charge station

Victorian state budget 2020, explained


Clean energy 

What’s included: Investment to create renewable energy hubs across the state, support solar installations and invest in innovative and local energy projects including microgrids, neighbourhood batteries and hydrogen projects. Also rebates to incentivise the uptake of solar technology and energy-efficient appliances.

How much is being spent: $1.6 billion

Who will benefit and how: RACV Solar CEO Andy McCarthy says the package has long-term solutions to reduce energy bills for Victorians while helping the environment by making homes more energy efficient.

RACV view: RACV is a strong supporter of transitioning Victoria to a clean energy future and is encouraged by the investments in Victoria’s renewable energy sector, including greater solar subsidies, investment in local energy projects and preparation for innovative and transformational renewable energy and hydrogen projects.

Social housing

What’s included: A record investment to deliver 12,000 new homes for low-income earners across Victoria, increasing the state’s social housing supply by 10 per cent in four years.

How much is being spent: $5.3 billion

Who will benefit and how: RACV urban planning manager Stuart Outhred says many of the 100,000 vulnerable Victorians currently waiting for social housing will gain a home, significantly improving their lives.  

RACV view: Social housing is a key to supporting vulnerable Victorians and RACV sees the significant investment as a key initiative which will increase the stock of high-quality, seven-star energy-efficient social housing across Victoria. Ensuring these new homes are located in areas with good access to jobs, open space, public transport and local services will be key.  

Electric vehicles

What’s included: A new electric vehicle road-user charge of 2.5 cents per kilometre starting in July 2021, to raise $30 million over four years. In return for this charge, the government has committed to fund EV infrastructure and technology.

How much is being spent: $9 million for new fast-charging infrastructure, $15 million in grants for EV infrastructure, $1 million in government fleet and policy development, $20 million for a trial of zero-emission bus technology. 

Who will benefit and how: RACV’s senior manager, transport, planning and infrastructure, Peter Kartsidimas, says this is a first step towards a fairer, more efficient and more transparent system of charging all road users.

RACV view: RACV believes the proposed rate of 2.5 cents per kilometre will not disincentivise the uptake of EVs, however we encourage the government to also look at what incentives can be introduced to increase the public and private take-up of low-emission and electric vehicles. RACV believes that a national road-user scheme will be required over time, to avoid complexity of each state going their own way. RACV welcomes the additional investment in EV charging infrastructure which will also support the uptake of electric vehicles.  

People waiting for train at station

Billions of dollars will be invested into the state's rail networks to ensure Victoria's transport system doesn't return to pre-COVID congestion levels. Photo: Matt Harvey


Tourism recovery

What’s included: Investment to support Victorian tourism including a $200 tourist voucher scheme and funds to improve visitor experiences including accommodation and major tourist trails.

How much is being spent: $465 million

Who will benefit and how: The package will bring tourists and jobs to Victoria’s regions as they recover from bushfire and the impact of COVID-19, and will help create better experiences for visitors.

RACV view: As one of the hardest-hit sectors of the Victorian economy, RACV welcomes the recognition in this year’s budget to promote and rebuild the tourism and conference and events sectors. Making the voucher scheme simple is critical for businesses to be able to effectively participate and administer it. It may also be better for this voucher scheme to be launched after the peak summer season, to encourage future stays. Other parts of the program will fund some of the much-needed investments required to maintain and strengthen some of our most iconic world-class tourist experiences including the Great Ocean Road, the East Gippsland Rail Trail and our sporting facilities.

Connecting communities

What’s included: Investment for local government and suburban development projects to deliver local infrastructure and community facilities.

How much is being spent: $148 million

Who will benefit and how: Peter Kartsidimas says this investment will particularly help those in Melbourne’s fast-growing outer suburbs in desperate need of facilities such as playgrounds and bike trails.

RACV view: RACV will continue to work to ensure that the government's support is leveraged to improve the liveability and connectivity of our local communities.

Bike and pedestrian infrastructure

What’s included: Investment in School and Community Safety Fund including new and improved pedestrian crossings, regional intersection upgrades, temporary walking and cycling infrastructure and development funding for a shared path along the Hurstbridge train line.

How much is being spent: $38.4 million

Who will benefit and how: Peter Kartsidimas says local communities, especially families, will gain from grassroots infrastructure, making it easier and safer to get around by bike or on foot.

RACV view: While RACV welcomes the government’s commitment to walking and cycling facilities for schools, it would have liked to see funding to reduce all school speed zones to 40kmh and a commitment to delivering major bicycle infrastructure across the state, including the Bicycle Superhighways which were identified by RACV and endorsed as a priority initiative by Infrastructure Australia earlier this year.

Stamp duty exemptions

What’s included: Stamp duty will be halved for new homes worth up to $1 million, and cut by a quarter for existing homes.

How much is being spent: The discount will cost the government $293 million.

Who will benefit and how: Stuart Outhred says this will help more people own a home, and also support those looking to relocate or downsize. He says reducing the impost of stamp duty makes the decision to move easier, whether it be families upsizing, ‘empty nesters’ downsizing, tree or sea-changers, or those following a new job opportunity. This helps people live in housing that better matches their needs and life stage.  

RACV view: We are keen to understand the details and to see how it affects the housing market. 

Cyclists riding on road in Melbourne

Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure will get a $38.4 million boost.


Young child playing on swing at park

$148 million will go towards improving local infrastructure and community facilities.


 

Kid playing on swing

Airport Rail Link

What’s included: A train service linking Tullamarine airport to CBD via Sunshine, and on to south-eastern suburbs via the Cranbourne and Pakenham train lines, with airport-to-city services taking 30 minutes. Set to start in 2022 with completion in 2029.

How much is being spent in this budget: $5 billion from state government, matched by federal funding.

Who will benefit and how: Peter Kartsidimas says anyone in the state who lives near rail will be able to reach the airport by train with just one transfer, or none at all for Cranbourne and Pakenham line passengers. In addition, the 20,000 people who work at the airport will have a new commuting option.

RACV view: An airport rail link has been one of the priority infrastructure projects RACV has advocated for over many years. Although it is a long timeframe, it will relieve pressure on the Tullamarine Freeway and give travellers greater choice and improved access to and from the airport from across Melbourne and regional Victoria. 

Suburban Rail Loop

What’s included: A radial rail loop connecting Melbourne’s middle suburbs and including early works to deliver new or upgraded stations at Cheltenham, Burwood, Box Hill, Clayton, Monash and Glen Waverley.

How much is being spent: $2.2 billion for stage one.

Who will benefit and how: Peter Kartsidimas says anyone who lives, works or studies near one of the new stations will get good access to rail. He adds there is also a great opportunity to build thriving activity centres around these stations – incorporating housing, jobs and education – to support the local community and help reshape the city.

RACV view: The Suburban Rail Loop will deliver a valuable connection between some of Melbourne’s most significant suburban activity centres. It is important that the project business case realises the importance of managing both delivery and budget, while recognising the full potential for the community in terms of access and opportunities for residential, social connection, education and employment. 

Geelong Fast Rail 

What’s included: Track upgrades and a dedicated express track to cut the Geelong-to-Melbourne rail commute times to 50 minutes.

How much is being spent: $2 billion in this state budget, matched by federal funds, for stage one between Werribee and Newport, starting in 2023.

Who will benefit and how: Peter Kartsidimas says people commuting between Melbourne and Geelong will have access to a faster and more reliable service,  and those who use the Melton, Wyndham, Ballarat and Bendigo lines will also enjoy improved reliability as Geelong-to-Melbourne trains will free up capacity on those lines.

RACV view: RACV has been calling for faster and improved rail services to Geelong for some time.  Although the travel time is longer than originally envisaged, RACV welcomes the announcement that stage-one of the Geelong Fast Rail will be delivered. RACV would also like to see a commitment to further improvements, including the Metro 2 project, and new train stations and metro services for Wyndham, in Melbourne’s fast-growing west. 

Regional road and rail network

What’s included: Investment in building, upgrading and maintaining regional Victoria’s road and rail network, stage three of the Shepparton Rail Line Upgrade and the Warrnambool Rail Line Upgrade. 

How much is being spent: $2.7 billion

Who will benefit and how: Regional Victorians will have access to safer roads and faster and more reliable rail services.

RACV view: RACV welcomes the state’s ongoing commitment to upgrading regional Victoria’s rail and road network. Regional Victorians are continuing to tell us that they want to see a greater commitment to upgrading the operation and condition of the rail and road network to improve safety and reduce travel times. This investment will go some way to addressing the existing backlog in the maintenance of the road network, as well as providing more reliable rail services to regional Victorians.