Federal Budget needs to do more than buy votes

The Australian Government’s 2019-2020 Budget may provide a promising financial foundation for the New England’s future but it needs to do much more than just buy votes ...

3 April



Budget needs to do much more than just buy votes

The Australian Government’s 2019-2020 Budget may provide a promising financial foundation for the New England’s future but it needs to do much more than just buy votes according to independent candidate for New England, Adam Blakester.

“Our national budget is being sold out by being used to buy votes for the upcoming election,’ Mr Blakester said. “Yet again, we see politicians and parties focussing on their own interests instead of ours. The once-off Energy Assistant Payment is a splash of cash that will fail to address rising energy costs. So too, the income tax breaks, which at most are just $10 per week for an individual and $20 per week for a couple, fail to secure a sound financial future for New Englanders.

“There is a way to get this proposed Budget on track for the New England though. I am calling on the Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, to ensure that the final Budget is fixed to create jobs and industry plus reduces costs of living.

“The New England Renewable Energy Zone is the biggest economic development in our history. Yet the jobs and supply chain opportunities have largely been missed so far. MP Joyce needs to use this Budget to secure one of the proposed Training Hubs, a bundle of the apprenticeships and funding for the Tamworth University Campus.

“These training investments also need to focus on growth areas of hospitality, tourism, events and new agriculture. This strategy will start to provide a transition for our workers in the Upper Hunter who are exposed to the decline of coal.

“While these measures help with jobs and income, the Budget needs to also really reduce living costs.

“Reducing energy costs calls for a national plan that transitions to local renewable energy solutions in combination with energy efficiency measures and education for businesses and the community.

“An additional benefit of focusing on energy costs is that this also addresses the Budget’s failing the future of farming. While the Budget provides financial support for farmers impacted by “significant weather events”, it commits a pathetically small 0.07% of funds toward addressing climate change which is worsening them. The proposed $10m for MP Joyce’s feasibility study into a new coal-fired power station is a complete waste of public money.

“If all we do is spend more money on dams, we will be damned! Instead, we need a national agriculture strategy to create real resilience for production. We need to support farmers as environmental stewards and restore the health of soils, landscape function for water security and address climate risks. An independent inquiry is essential to restoring public and industry confidence in the Murray Darling Basin.

“Lastly, I call on MP Joyce to strengthen the Budget investment in regional infrastructure and services. It’s not good enough that half of the ‘regional centres’ targeted in this Budget are metropolitan areas. The Budget needs to address the structural shortfall in funding for local government infrastructure. So too, it must fix Medicare and return bulk-billing.

“Some of these changes require greater national revenue. The most important fix in this regard is closing the huge holes in our taxation system that allow corporate and high net worth individuals to take income off shore to tax havens.”

“I do commend the Coalition Government on returning the Budget to surplus for the first time in a decade. This is key to reducing the record levels of government debt. Other real positives are the commitments to the Royal Commission into disability abuse, new aged care packages and Headspace centres for youth,’ Mr Blakester said.

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