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Victorian budget in rooftop solar and transport blitz

UPDATED: An expanded the rooftop solar and storage program, big spending on rail and a crackdown on dodgy energy companies are among the highlights of the 2019-20 Victorian budget. 

There will be a $2 billion upgrade to the Sunbury railway line to allow higher capacity trains and allow an extra 113,000 passengers to travel during peak periods.

The Cranbourne line is being expanded at the cost of $750 million to allow trains to run every ten minutes, and 4.4 kilometres of track is being expanded on the Hurstbridge line, plus two new stations for the line. There will also be three new stations built around Bendigo.

The Andrews government has also spent $340 million on 18 new “V/Line VLocity” trains for various lines.

The government is also funding new roads in what it is calling a “suburban transport blitz”, including $15.8 billion to fully fund the North East Link. 

The Andrews government is refusing, however, to build the East West Link on the grounds that it “doesn’t stack up” despite the recently re-elected Morrison government offering $4 billion to build it.

A further $6.6 billion will go towards the removal of 25 “dangerous and congested” level crossings as part of an election commitment made before Labor was re-elected in November last year. 

The state government has also delivered on its election promise to expand the Solar Homes program, which provide rebates and zero-interest loans for solar panels, hot water systems and batteries, at a cost of $1.3 billion over 10 years.

Critically, the scheme will now include renters, who are typically locked out of the rooftop solar market. 

“Installation training, grid improvements and audits will increase the safety of the roll-out,” Treasurer Tim Pallas said in his budget speech.

A tax increase has been introduced on luxury cars over $100,000, with low-emission cars among the vehicles exempt from the tax increase. 

There’s also increased taxes for foreign property investors (from 7 to 8 per cent) and absentee landowners (1.5 to 2 per cent), starting July 1. 

The government is also going after energy companies that are overcharging customers, with a $27 million investment going towards the Essential Services Commission to investigate misbehaving companies. The regulator will also get an extra commissioner.

Around $30 million has been allocated to progress the Victorian Treaty process.

The original story mentioned a lack of money for recycling but a $34.9 million package of recycling reforms was actually included in the budget.

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