Barnaby: Budget Duds Regional Australia … Again

10 May

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, 10 May 2011:

Budget set to dud regional Australia… again

Labor’s first three budgets have not been good for regional Australia.

Its first budget slashed $1 billion in regional funding and axed the OPEL contract to deliver fast broadband to regional communities. Its second budget introduced a carbon emissions tax and slashed $900 million from the agriculture budget.

And its third heralded a mining tax and ramped up water buy-backs from farmers. Tonight’s is not shaping up as any better.

“Labor’s record has never lived up to its rhetoric – tonight will be no exception. The Government has already made overblown assurances that don’t stack up – like re-announcing road projects, short-term skilled migrants in the regions and a boost to apprenticeship schemes that specifically exclude agriculture and horticulture,” Leader of The Nationals Warren Truss said.

“A few things you can count on Labor to deliver tonight… less money for the regions and two big new taxes on the way.

“But we are being asked to take on trust that the Treasurer, who plunged us into record debt and the budget into a $50 billion deficit in just four years, will return the nation’s books to surplus over the next two.

“Labor is, again, taking us for mugs. But we’ve been down this path before. People in the regions do not trust a government that has already robbed them blind, habitually broken promises, overseen dramatic cost of living increases on households and mired us in massive debt.

“Once the budget hype subsides, regional Australia will be counting the costs… again.”

Senator Barnaby Joyce added: “Half of Mr Swan’s life is a promise, the other is an excuse. Tonight we are due to get both.”

“As an example, the biggest promise Labor has made in regional Australia is the Perth airport roads upgrade. I keep trying to explain this to the people of Collarenebri about how well they are getting looked after, by this regional package, but I just can’t convince them.

“They need not worry. Wayne is going to whack them between the eyes again as he ramps up their fringe benefit tax every time they jump in the car.

“Meanwhile one of the largest items, the carbon tax, doesn’t even “crack a feature” – as my old boss in accountancy called it. Interesting, the carbon tax used to be the greatest moral challenge of our time, now it doesn’t get its own line on the nation’s P&L.”

“Instead of new taxes, the Nationals want to create more opportunity for regional Australia. We have led efforts to reinstate Youth Allowance for students from regional areas. We have established a dams task group to open up new areas of economic opportunity in our nation. We want to unlock the $1.4 trillion invested in superannuation, attracting investment in nation building infrastructure through targeted tax concessions.”

Mr Truss and Senator Joyce declared The Nationals have a plan for regional Australia. Labor doesn’t even know where regional Australia is.

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The facts on regional Australia

Just as it has done every year, Labor will make a lot of big claims tonight. But once again, Labor’s budget is set to dud regional Australia with less money for the regions and two great big new taxes on the way.

Labor has not delivered for regional Australia

PROMISE: Labor announced a $10 billion regional Australia agreement with the independents which apparently swayed them to support Labor.

REALITY: Less than one-tenth of this was new money, $800 million for a regional development fund (which has since been cut by $350 million) and $140 million for increased ethanol assistance. The rest was an already announced $6 billion Regional Infrastructure Fund (funded from the mining tax) and the allocation of existing health and education funds to regional Australia.

Less than one year in Labor has cut money from regional Australia

PROMISE: In their agreement with the independents, the Government promised $1.4 billion in funding for economic, social and community infrastructure in regional Australia.

REALITY: On 3 March, 2011 Labor announced a $1 billion Regional Australia Fund, $400 million less than what was originally promised.

Labor is spending even less on regional Australia than in its first term

PROMISE: Labor promised to increase investment in regional Australia and Julia Gillard promised “to deliver for regional Australia”.

REALITY: The $1 billion Regional Australia Fund is less than the regional development funding it replaces, the $1.2 billion Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program. On an annual basis, it’s $170 million less per year. The new fund amounts to $200 million per year (five-year program). The old fund amounted to $370 million per year (over three years).

The mining tax is a dud deal for the regions

PROMISE: Labor says that it will use the proceeds of the mining tax to invest in regional Australia.

REALITY: The mining tax will rip out at least $40 billion from regional Australia in the next decade. Only $6 billion has been earmarked for regional Australia.

Labor can’t even define where regional Australia is

PROMISE: Labor promised a new deal for “regional” Australia.

REALITY: Labor’s announcements so far from regional funds spend more in capital cities than the regions. The biggest “regional” promise Labor has made is the $480 million investment in the Perth Airports road upgrade.

[ENDS]

Media Contacts: Mr Truss: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6277 4482 or 0467 650 020 or brett.heffernan@aph.gov.au

Senator Joyce: Matt Canavan on 6277 3244 or 0458 709 433 or matthew.canavan@aph.gov.au

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