What the Victorian Budget Means for Construction in 2021

Last week’s state budget, handed down by Treasurer Tim Pallas and Acting Premier James Merlino, promises monumental wins for key sectors, with greater focus on social issues such as mental health as a result of last year’s Stage 4 lockdown.

Transport infrastructure was the real winner, with $2.3 billion to be invested in expanding the Victorian rail network, and the $986 million X’Trapolis 2.0 train program which is expected to create and support 750 jobs.

The government has also prioritised education and healthcare, promising billions for upgrades to existing schools and hospitals plus new builds in areas of rapid development, prompting a positive knock-on effect for the construction industry.

$3 billion has been committed to the education sector in this year’s Victorian state budget, with half to be spent on school-building infrastructure. A further $1.6 billion will be spent on hospital infrastructure.

Education: Government promises to build 13 new schools

In a win for Melbourne’s outer ring, 13 new schools will be built, with 52 schools, including 17 in regional Victoria, to receive vital upgrades to classrooms, libraries and learning spaces. 

The government expects up to 3,500 jobs to be created in construction and related industries as a result of the commitment to education. 

Acting Premier James Merlino said the investment in education would be felt across the state.

“By investing in our schools, we’re giving our kids the classrooms they deserve – and importantly, creating thousands of jobs,” Mr Merlino said.

The budget also allows for the purchase of land for a further 14 schools as well as the expansion of capacity at 6 schools in rapid-growth areas, yet to be announced.

$225 million has been set aside for essential maintenance, improved learning spaces and improving accessibility for young people with a disability at 74 primary and secondary schools across Melbourne and regional Victoria under Round 6 of the Inclusive Schools Fund.

A further $383.8 million has been allocated to TAFE, with $84 million allocated to upgrading facilities on-campus, including redeveloping the Broadmeadows and Shepparton campuses, planning for training provision at Melton and $10.2 million to be spent on a TAFE trade training centre in Lilydale.

Health: New and improved health care in major growth areas

Health infrastructure projects will also receive a significant boost, with $800 million reserved for metro Melbourne and regional Victoria. 

$555.6 million was allocated to the Community Hospitals Program, which will see 10 community hospitals built close to major growth areas across the state.

New emergency department paediatric zones will be built at Northern Hospital, Casey Hospital, Frankston Hospital, Maroondah Hospital and University Hospital Geelong, with $99.7 million committed to the upgrades. 

A further $105 million will be invested in grants to assist hospitals and health services to replace critical infrastructure across the Regional Health Infrastructure fund, Medical Equipment Replacement program and Engineering Infrastructure Replacement program.

More than half a billion dollars will be spent on mental healthcare infrastructure, with $349.6 million allocated to delivering 82 new secure mental health beds at Thomas Embling Hospital.

A further $141 million has been allocated to create youth prevention and recovery care facilities in north-east Melbourne, Barwon, Gippsland, the Grampians and Hume, as well as refurbishments to facilities in Frankston, Dandenong and Bendigo.

Meanwhile, $65 million will be spent modernising public sector aged care facilities, including redeveloping the Glenview nursing home in Rutherglen, and designing and planning a further two facilities in Camperdown and Cohuna. 

$179.4 million from the 2021/22 budget has been allocated to stage one of the Fishermans Bend Innovation Precinct at the former General Motors Holden site.

The 32-hectare site, four kilometres from the Melbourne CBD, will from 2024 be the new home for the University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering.

Stage one involves remediation of the site and installation of infrastructure, with a new road through the precinct.

“The old Holden factory is part of Victoria’s manufacturing history – this important first step will help transform it into Victoria’s manufacturing future,” Business Precincts Minister Martin Pakula said.

Education Recap

Total allocation: $1.6 billion

Key projects: Victorian School Building Program, Inclusive Schools Fund, Minor Capital Works Fund, acquisition of land for 14 new schools across Melbourne.

Jobs created: 3,500

Health Recap

Total allocation: $1.6 billion

Key projects: $800m Health Infrastructure program, $105m Infrastructure & Equipment Grants program, $530m Mental Healthcare Infrastructure program, $65m Modernising Aged Care program.

Image Source: ArchitectureAU

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