Matthew Guy says the Federal Government will be an asset to his campaign. (Twitter: Adam Carey)
The leaders of Victoria’s two major parties have hit the hustings on the first day of the state election campaign, with Premier Daniel Andrews heading north-east while Opposition Leader Matthew Guy heads west.
- Labor focused on regional health on day one
- Coalition says proposed payroll tax cut will create regional jobs
- Fewer than four weeks until polling day
The Labor campaign travelled to the Premier’s home town of Wangaratta, where Mr Andrews promised $10 million for the redevelopment of the city’s hospital, before leading the media to his mother’s house for lunch.
Meanwhile, a day after officially launching his campaign with promises to crack down on crime and cut registration costs for young drivers, Mr Guy travelled to Ballarat, where he spruiked his plans for decentralisation.
The Opposition Leader visited an engineering factory in the Labor-held seat of Wendouree to speak about his pledge to cut the payroll tax rate for businesses in regional Victoria from 2.425 per cent to 1 per cent.
“That incentive will allow businesses like Findlay Engineering to employ new staff, to invest in their equipment and machinery, to bring new jobs outside of Melbourne, to grow all of Victoria, not just Melbourne,” Mr Guy said.
The Coalition predicts the tax cut will save about 4,000 businesses an average of $11,633 a year.
Asked about the cost of the measure to the budget, Mr Guy said it would be in the tens of millions of dollars, and a full costing would be released before the election.
“We are very confident that this announcement is one that we can not only pay for, but will in fact reap greater dividends for the state by growing more jobs outside of Melbourne,” he said.
As part of his decentralisation push, Mr Guy previously promised “European style” fast rail to regional cities, including 32 minutes between Melbourne and Geelong, 45 minutes between Melbourne and Ballarat and a 70-minute journey between Melbourne and Bendigo.
Mr Guy today brushed off questions he was trying to distance himself from federal Liberal colleagues, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was making an announcement at the iconic tourism spot the Twelve Apostles.
“I need him involved and I will have him involved,” Mr Guy said of the Prime Minister.
The Premier’s wife Catherine joined him on the campaign trail. (ABC News: Stephanie Anderson)
Andrews makes pitch to the bush
Labor’s funding pledge for Wangaratta’s hospital comes on top of a $22 million commitment made in government for the healthcare service.
Mr Andrews said smaller hospitals had missed out on the funding given to their larger counterparts in metropolitan areas.
“Whenever my family turned to this place, there was always support and love and care,” Mr Andrews said.
“I couldn’t think of a better way of investing $32 million than to make sure the future of this health service is secure.”
Yesterday, Labor launched its campaign with a $1.4 billion health promise that included funding for new nurses and paramedics and more than $500,000 to create 10 new community hospitals.
The party also pitched to regional voters, pledging to deliver an extra 500,000 specialist medical appointments in regional communities.
But Mr Andrews denied he was trying to shake off the Opposition’s charges of Labor being city-centric.
“I’m about who I am, I’m from regional Victoria, I’m from this local community, I’m not pretending, I’m just being me,” he said.
Wangaratta is in the safe Nationals seat of Ovens Valley.
But sitting MP Tim McCurdy is facing trial for fraud charges that pre-date his time as a member of Parliament, and given independent MP Cathy McGowan now holds the federal seat of Indi, which includes Wangaratta, there is speculation change could be in the air.
Labor only recently announced its candidate, Kate Doyle.
Victorians will go to the polls on November 24.