BUILDING Victoria's economy will continue to be the State Government's priority in the second half of its term.
Steadfast: Peter Ryan ... "seeing increasing prosperity through the regions".
Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Peter Ryan sat down with The Weekly Times to reflect on the Coalition's two-year anniversary in power and was keen to point out that country Victoria's fortunes were inseparable from the broader state's.
"We're now the only jurisdiction in Australia - federal, state or territory - whose economy is not on watch by the agencies," he said.
It has been an eventful year for Mr Ryan, who struggled in a dispute with parliamentary secretary Bill Tilley over former former Victoria Police chief commissioner Simon Overland. But he denied that hindered him.
"People will make their own judgments. From my point of view, I have steamed on, no problem," he said.
He pointed to the increased number of police, which was on track to meet the commitment of an additional 1700 officers by 2014, claiming the force was "the best in the Australian nation".
The livestock and farm crime squad was also "doing superb work", he said. When questioned on the prosecution rate of farm thefts - figures show just 8.5 per cent of cases have been prosecuted - he said this was a symptom of a higher level of policing and more reporting.
On delivery of services, in line with promises prior to the election, Mr Ryan said "we're substantially through them".
He highlighted the Regional Growth Fund and passage of the new fire service property levy, "a change that people have been crying out for for years".
Looking ahead, he said it was fundamental that "we continue to support rural and regional Victoria in a way that enables it not only to develop to its best potential in its own right but also to do that from the point of view of the state's interests as a whole".
On the un-met promise to deliver natural gas to the regions, Mr Ryan said he was "looking to see more of that occur over the course of the next two years".
He said the Government would continue to deliver RGF projects, particularly driving employment.
But Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said the state has lost 34,300 full-time jobs in regional Victoria since the election.
Mr Daniels claimed country Victoria was being ignored by the Government.
"It's the Nationals whose arguments are routinely ignored by their own Government, with cuts to front line jobs in the Department of Primary Industries, regional TAFE courses, and agricultural research and support services for farmers."
But Mr Ryan, when asked how the Coalition was functioning, said he had a "great association with (Premier) Ted Baillieu, we run it as a partnership and I think it works for well the good of the state at large, particularly, those of us in the regions".
The Weekly Times requested an interview with Mr Baillieu to mark his two years in office but this was declined.