CASH-STRAPPED councils will be able to access cheap loans through Treasury under Labor's new plans for developing country Victoria.
The initiative is part of Victorian Labor's Plan for Jobs and Growth, released in part today by Opposition leader Daniel Andrews.
Mr Andrews will detail his ideas, should his party take government from the incumbent Liberal-National Coalition at the next election, at a Rural Press Club of Victoria event in Ballarat today.
A cornerstone of his plan for rural and regional Victoria was a facility where the Treasury Corporation Victoria could undertake borrowing on behalf of municipal authorities.
"Labor's policy will make it easier for councils to build new suburbs and industry parks, and make infrastructure funding more affordable and accessible for the state's growing regions," Mr Andrews told The Weekly Times.
"Funding would be available for infrastructure projects, subject to credit approvals," he said.
The Treasury interest rate available to councils would be "the normal government borrowing rate, well below the basic market rate councils have had to pay before for infrastructure contracts and premiums", Mr Andrews said.
Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur said the idea of councils borrowing via Treasury "at a few per cent points lower than what they may otherwise be able to access borrowings" would be a "great boon".
He said such a scheme, with lower interest rate loans, would particularly help rural councils who lacked the capacity of some larger municipalities to negotiate with banks.
The State Opposition also promised to introduce a national debt product, backed by a government guarantee.
Mr Andrews said the Opposition would also resource the implementation of regional strategic plans and reinvigorate the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund.