The Far North has been dealt another blow by the Federal Government with the handing down of the 2011 Federal Budget this evening.
“This Budget confirms how out of touch Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan are with Australian families. It fails the essential test: to ease the cost of living on Australians who face higher prices every day,” Federal Member for Warren Entsch said today.
“The digital set top box initiative for a start is a rort in itself. A single set top box only costs $30 each and installed would cost no more than $50, so why is this Government spending $400 on them. I thought Wayne Swan said this morning that this would be a ‘rort-free’ budget, this is ‘pink batts for pensioners’ and a total rort.”
Mr Entsch also accused the Federal Government of re-announcing the funding to upgrade the Bruce Highway it has been re-committing and not delivering this funding since the 2007 election.
“We want this project underway today, not in another 3 years time. We have been waiting since it was first announced back in 2007. Our region has waited long enough,” said Mr Entsch.
The average Far Northern family has missed out in this budget.
“There is nothing in this Budget for Australian families doing it tough. All this Budget delivers is more deficit, more debt and more spin.
“The government’s failure to rein in its wasteful and reckless spending will lead to higher inflation and higher interest rates.
“This Budget is not worth the paper it is written on. There is a hole in its heart. The absence of the carbon tax means the government’s claim to deliver a surplus in 2012/13 can’t be taken seriously.
“The revenue figures for 2012/13 are wrong. The expenditure figures are wrong, as are the forecasts for inflation, economic growth and unemployment.
“Strong leadership provides certainty. This government is weak, unstable and directionless and lacks the leadership to do what’s right for Australian families and businesses.
“This year’s Budget deficit has soared to $49.4 billion and the forecast deficit in 2011/12 has blown out by $9.6 billion to $22.6 billion.
“Net government debt has climbed to a record $107 billion in 2011/12 and is forecast to remain above $100 billion across the forward estimates. This amounts to more than $4700 for every Australian.
“Again we’ve seen a typical, old fashioned Labor Budget that’s big on taxes and big on spending, but fails to help households battling higher costs of living petrol, electricity and gas, groceries, health costs and home repayments.
“The government is launching a $2 billion assault on families by freezing the indexation of key family tax payments and income thresholds for three years.
“This is the first budget in eight years that has not provided tax cuts for everyday Australians. The government is being tough on families because it’s failed to be tough on itself.
“Labor has lost control of Australia’s borders. Offshore asylum seeker management has blown out by a record $1.75 billion since last year’s budget. Labor’s incompetent approach to border protection is in disarray.
“The new arrangements for taxing company cars will slug small business operators, tradesmen, farmers, the taxi and hire car industry with increased costs at a time when they’re already doing it tough.
“Regional Australia has again been short changed by a city centric government that’s cut $500 million in regional funding. There is not a single new cent in this Budget for road or rail projects across Australia,” he said.
The only tick Mr Entsch was willing to give the Government amongst all of the crosses, was the increased spending on mental health, something he has been pushing for.
“While I welcome the increased spend for mental health of $1.5 billion, this is long overdue. If the Government doesn’t pull its socks up and start to make the disaster relief payments accessible to affected businesses in the Far North under the NDRRA Category D scheme they will be needing to invest much more in mental health to stem the increased depression and suicide rates caused by the unbearable stress and anxiety experienced by disaster victims who have been left out in the cold.
“Businesses are on their knees and the Government has turned its back on them. The one thing this Government could have done in this budget was ease the stringent criteria for NDRRA eligibility. All it takes is the stroke of a pen,” he said.
Under the Category D diaster relief businesses should be able to access up to $650,000 in concessional loans and up to $50,000 grants to assist in rebuilding their businesses.
“The Government has the money there which has been generously donated by Australians, they just need to start spending it and stop wasting money on non-priority items and assist the people who drive this economy and create employment – businesses.
“Since coming to power, Labor has employed 24,000 additional public servants. The Government is asking the Australian people to tighten their belts, but it’s refusing to do the same itself.
“Australians are looking for stability and certainty from their government, not this weak and directionless approach.”