Labor’s 2022 Budget has signalled some disappointing news for regional Australians.
In a huge blow to regional organisations across Grey, Minister for Infrastructure Catherine King MP, has announced the Labor Government will scrap Round Six of the Building Better Regions Fund.
Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said the Minister’s decision will leave applicants currently awaiting the outcome of latest round of the program bitterly disappointed.
“Applications to Round Six closed in February, meaning proponents have been waiting for more than eight months to learn the fate of their projects, Mr Ramsey said. “The applications were processed months ago by the department however, the election in early April and subsequent “caretaker mode” prevented the ministerial announcements, we have had a change of government and now six months later the new government has thrown all that work in the bin.
“It’s a massive blow for more than 20 organisations across Grey which have spent the time, considerable effort and money in applying for this round of funding,” he said.
“This is a clear indication of the Government’s lack of understanding of regional Australia and is an incredibly disrespectful way to treat regional communities.
“While the Budget presents the bare bones of two new regional investment programs, we have no detail and no timelines. Worth noting Labor’s last ‘regional’ program included funding for a ring-route around Perth airport and now Minster King has already proclaimed $10m for the next stage of the City of Holdfast Bay’s Jetty Road Masterplan and $6 million for City of Marion upgrades as support for regional communities. She needs to get a roadmap.”
Mr Ramsey said he was very concerned there was nothing in the budget to meet the ongoing cost of security scanning at Whyalla and Port Lincoln airports.
“The Coalition’s March Budget included a top-up of $28.5m for the Regional Airport Screening Infrastructure Program which had been meeting the cost of operating the scanners at regional airports with comparatively low passenger numbers,” he said. “This Budget has removed that support and it seems likely it will kill the Qantas service to Whyalla and threaten the viability of the Port Lincoln service.”
Mr Ramsey said the new childcare measures announced in the Budget offer no support for new centres, leaving many communities with no prospect of future childcare options.
“I have been talking to five individual communities planning to target the $20m put forward in our March budget to establish new centres in their town. Treasurer Jim Chalmers has sucked up that Budget line for his pet projects. Residents in our smaller regional communities will contribute more taxation to support higher subsidies and higher wages for services they cannot access.
“Unbelievably, the budget tells us it will cost $217m to abolish the Cashless Debit Card, compounding what is already a terrible decision.
“It also tells us that where $200m of this amount is to be spent is a secret. So much for transparency.
“The Budget contains some positive news on regional telecommunications with the Government matching the Coalition’s pre-election commitment within a few days during the campaign and this Budget delivering on that promise. Good! It will be the first time Labor Government has ever supported the erection of new mobile tower in the country.
“However, nationally the future is bleak with the budget predicting that under Labor 140,000 Australians will lose their jobs, power prices are set to rise by 50%, exposing their key election promise to save Australian families $275 annually on their energy bills as a load of rubbish.
“Their promise to lift real wages has also been exposed as no more that election rhetoric, no growth in real wages until 2024.”
“Just six months into their term of government, this budget demonstrates Labor has a real problem with the truth. They have been mugged by the reality of government. Much, much harder than they thought.”
Media contact: Leonie Lloyd-Smith
26 October, 2022