WESTERN Victoria upper house MP Stuart Grimley is optimistic the Warracknabeal Education Precinct will be fully funded in the upcoming state budget, following meetings with the education minister.
The precinct will bring together the Warracknabeal Primary School, Warracknabeal Special Developmental School and Warracknabeal Secondary College onto one campus.
The college received $4 million in the 2016-17 state budget and the special development school received $2 million. It is half complete, with funding needed for stage two of the project.
The Derryn Hinch's Justice Party leader and upper house MP said he met with James Merlino last year.
"He assured us it remains a matter of top priority," Mr Grimley said. "We reinforced the fact the school is in a complete state of disrepair, the cracks on the wall are common knowledge now and it's just disgraceful kids have to be put in an education setting where the buildings are falling down around them. Fortunately he lent us a good ear and said it would remain a priority for the budget.
Scroll down to read what else the Wimmera's representatives are pushing for ahead of the budget
"We've made a budget submission to the treasurer that will see stage two completed which will be around $16 million and we are very hopeful of that to be honoured."
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said the minister "appeared to give an indication that the school would be funded" after she raised the matter in parliament last year.
"We need to see the special school finished and the secondary college fully finished and built on the primary school site," she said.
"We also need to see a good indication for what the plans are for the primary school and ideally this should be within the budget, so Warracknabeal students and families can be assure they can celebrate the opening of a complete education precinct."
Members of the Warracknabeal Education Precinct group met with Mr Merlino and Western Victoria MP Jaala Pulford on Thursday. In a statement on social media, they said it was a "positive" meeting though no commitment was made.
Ms Pulford visited the school in October. She said the school's community would have found the last two budgets "disappointing".
"I will continue to work with that community to advocate for that project completion," she said.
Ms Pulford said the government would focus on delivering its election commitments and adequately funding mental health services based on the outcomes of the Mental Health Royal Commission.
"As I think lots of people in Victoria are aware, this will be a tight and challenging budget because revenues are less than we would all like them to be," she said.
"The housing market has been quiet, coronavirus and the bushfires have presented some new challenges to what was already a challenging budget cycle.
Victoria's state budget is traditionally handed down in early May.
Ms Kealy said the opposition was in the process of pulling together specific projects it wanted to see funded.
"We know the Wimmera Healthcare Group is really in need of a full funding review and this government hasn't looked at doing that - seeing how we can properly fund the healthcare group as a base hospital for the region," she said.
"They are being asked to increasingly provide more services to our region, which is what our people deserve, but the government certainly need to properly fund that.
"Our Primary Care Partnerships have only got funding until the end of financial year and they provide enormous support for our region in bringing health organisations together and cobbling funding together so we can achieve more than we would otherwise, a good example is the mental outreach service."
Mr Grimley said he also hoped to see the government fully fund the Country Fire Authority.
"For every $2 that is funded by the government, the CFA is expected to raise a dollar. We have called on the government to look beyond that agreement, so that instead of having to host sausage sizzles and rattling tins in and around town the CFA can have the necessary equipment and modern trucks and hoses," he said.
The Animal Justice Party upper house MP said he had been seeking upgrades to the Country Fire Authority's airbases in Horsham and Hamilton.
"They each need different amounts of money, but both are the major take-off and drop-off points in the western area for CFA aircraft," she said. "They need upgrades to the runways and CFA premises to make sure not only are they ready for this fire season but so it sets them up for the future.
"Rather than having to continue asking for large amounts of money to fix things up it's a situation of let's get them up to scratch now and get it to a point where we only need to look at ongoing maintenance costs."
The Liberal upper house MP for Western Victoria agreed with Mr Grimley there needed to be adequate funding for CFA equipment. She also called for a new fire station for Dimboola.
"In this year's budget, I'd like to see funding committed to complete the Murray Basin Rail Project to its original scope, and restoration of the Coalition's Country Roads and Bridges Program, which provided rural councils with $1 million annually to fund vital shire road and bridge repairs and replacements," she said.
The Member for Ripon and Shadow treasurer called for the state government to commit to its 20 per cent share of funding the final stage of Western Highway duplication between Ararat and Stawell. The Federal Government committed $360 million to this in its 2019-20 budget.
She also urged the government to reconsider its position on a St Arnaud project.
"Northern Grampians Shire Council thought they were getting a grant but the government said it would be a loan. The community can't afford to pay back the loan, which is why they haven't taken up the offer."