State budget focus on increasing port security

<p>A $20m plan to upgrade security at ports in Victoria and a $20.2m investment to improve the state’s coastal assets around Port Philip and Western Port Bays are some of the initiatives of the newly released state budget.</p> <p>State minister for police Tim Holding said $16m would go strictly to strengthening security at Victoria’s five main ports.</p> <p>These investments include:</p> <p>&#8226 Four water police to make up a dive team at the Port of Melbourne</p> <p>&#8226 Three Melbourne-based analysts to gather intelligence on ship movements</p> <p>&#8226 Twenty-eight water police and two vessels for the Melbourne branch of the Water Police and</p> <p>&#8226 One vessel for Geelong, one vessel for Hastings, and one vessel for Portland.</p> <p>The 7.3 metre boats are 7.3m capable of rapidly responding to any emergency, Mr Holding said. They will be equipped with night vision, thermal imaging, sonar equipment, communications gear, and remote underwater cameras.</p> <p>Funding has been allocated for a dive recompression chamber.</p> <p>Mr Holding said $1.6m would be invested in the State Crisis Centre, which coordinates the police, Commonwealth agencies, and emergency services in the event of an emergency.</p> <p>Environment minister John Thwaites said $9m would go towards repairing seawalls, groynes, and piers along the coast.</p> <p>An extra $3m will be used to finish capital works at the port of Portland.</p> <p>Mr Thwaites said the new funding would allow improved delivery of services to Victoria’s 13 local ports and help to extend the life of coastal assets through maintenance funding.</p> <p>Minister for transport Peter Batchelor said a total of $96m is to be spent in road and rail networks, including $19.5m to the continue the Bass Highway duplication at Grantville and $4m to construct overtaking lanes on the Princes Highway in East Gippsland.</p> <p>Also, $3.1m will go to the relocation of the Ballarat Freight Yard.</p> <p>Mr Batchelor said the government would roll out the Country Train Safety Systems, which includes fitting a new safety system to 59 trains in the V&#47Line fleet.</p> <br />