‘VOICES for Monash’ candidate for the seat of Monash, Deb Leonard, is underwhelmed by Tuesday’s Federal Budget, calling for more to be done for communities in the electorate.

“There were no significant projects announced in the Monash Electorate in this week’s Budget in spite of there being numerous communities in desperate need of Commonwealth contributions,” Ms Leonard said.

The lawyer, who owns a Phillip Island legal practice, expressed concern at the Federal Government’s failure to announce funding for major road upgrades in the electorate.

“The North-South Drouin Bypass is something that really needs to be planned for in the near future, with a lot of heavy vehicles going along that road and causing congestion in Drouin township,” Ms Leonard said.

She stressed that while many roads are state government or council responsibilities, “Things like a Drouin Bypass and major overhauls do need federal funding.”

Ms Leonard said that people in South Gippsland towns such as Yanakie, Foster and Toora continue to express concern about the deteriorating condition of roads.

The need for funding for a Leongatha heavy vehicle alternate route is another significant project required, she said.

Ms Leonard also hit out at a lack of investment to help boost tourism in the Bass Coast and South Gippsland region.

“I would have hoped there might be some support for the businesses that are still reeling from the effects of Covid and are now dealing with workforce shortages, to make sure those businesses can survive,” Ms Leonard said.

The proposed Phillip Island Aquatic Centre is one project she said would not only offer an important facility to locals but would act as a drawcard for visitors throughout the year, noting federal funding is required to help make it a reality.

The Gippsland Tracks and Trails project, aimed at better connecting the “475 kilometres of existing rail trail corridors throughout Gippsland”, is something Ms Leonard sees as providing a great tourist attraction for the region, saying that is another project needing federal funding.

Ms Leonard attacked the Federal Government’s use of one-off handouts in the latest Budget, saying that approach does nothing to address the fundamental issues behind the increasing cost of living and its associated pressures.

She also called for greater spending to address climate change.

Ms Leonard argued there is great potential for workers in the Latrobe Valley to transition to the renewable energy industry, but that requires sufficient investment.

“All the transmission infrastructure is already there in the valley and it’s the perfect place to build solar and windfarms and create jobs in those areas, but we just have to invest in them and reskill the coal workers into those jobs,” Ms Leonard said.

A new approach to governing the nation is required to ensure communities’ needs are met, she believes.

“There needs to be a more systematic way of planning the future of our communities and our country than simply offering a ‘cash splash’ to voters on the eve of an election,” Ms Leonard said.

She considers the overall system is only part of the problem, arguing that even within the existing limitations, the electorate of Monash should be faring better.

“We don’t have strong representation in government to make sure we get our fair share,” Ms Leonard said.