The regional parliament program, which would return under an elected Liberal Nationals government, offers country Victorians a valuable experience, according to Member for Euroa Steph Ryan.
The commitment, announced by Opposition Leader Matthew Guy last week, would see Mildura, Shepparton, Warrnambool and the Latrobe Valley host parliamentarians from one chamber of Parliament — either the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council — for one sitting week each.
Ms Ryan said it was disappointing the current state parliament hasn’t been taken to regional Victoria.
‘‘To me it reflects a government whose priorities are very focused in the city, and not in country Victoria,’’ she said.
‘‘The opportunity for country Victorians to see how parliament works is very valuable to our communities ... and having it located in Shepparton will be a great opportunity for people from our region to go see how it works on a day-to-day basis.’’
Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said Labor created the regional assemblies to give local communities enhanced access to Government and its decision making process. ‘‘Seymour hosted a regional assembly gathering late last year, with several Government ministers at tables talking direct to community members,’’ she said.
‘‘Parliamentary processes aren’t particularly interactive, it’s not as though we have questions from the floor…. county communities would be spectators, much the same as live streaming - which you can do now.
‘‘The Opposition have failed to release the massive cost of bringing MPs, staff, clerks, attendants, Hansard, technical support to country towns, security to country Victoria - I know I’d rather see such money spent on schools, hospitals, emergency services and creating jobs in our country towns.’’
Seymour-based Member for Northern Victoria Daniel Young said he welcomed the possibility of the State Parliament holding regional sittings.
‘‘There is a real disconnect between the city-centric Victorian Government and regional constituents,’’ he said.
‘‘This would be a perfect opportunity for Members of Parliament to meet residents in regional and rural Victoria and see first-hand the issues facing them.’’
‘‘After being returned to opposition in 2014, the Nationals are feeling the heat and are now trying to play favourite in places like Shepparton, Mildura and the Latrobe Valley — places the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party will target in November.’’