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October 23, 2008

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has called on the Federal Government to focus on rural and regional communities with its plan to fast-track infrastructure spending in response to global economic concerns.

In Federal Parliament this week, Mr Chester called on the government to move quickly and consult with local government, which have projects ready to begin but awaiting funding.

“Investing in regional infrastructure will help local communities to withstand the worst of the global financial crisis and I encourage the government to act quickly in this regard,” Mr Chester said.

“Since the current government abolished the Regional Partnerships program, there has been a vacuum in regional areas in terms of opportunities to access major project funding.

“I strongly urge the government to move quickly and consult with local government, which is best placed, I believe, to deliver these projects in the future.

“In my electorate the Wellington Shire, East Gippsland Shire and Latrobe City each have a range of projects that could come on line immediately.

“It would boost local economies and replace and maintain the kind of infrastructure that really provides the glue for these communities.”

Mr Chester said he was determined to make sure that Gippsland received its fair share of any infrastructure spending program proposed by the Rudd Government.

“I have supported the first stage of the economic stimulus package with the one–off bonus payment to pensioners and carers and if the Government is going to announce an infrastructure program there are dozens of projects in regional areas which should be supported,” Mr Chester said.

“There are many projects in Gippsland which are ready to roll, all it takes is a commitment for the Federal Government to support our local communities.”

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