The Hunter and Central Coast has missed out in Malcolm Turnbull’s 2018 Federal Budget.
This failure to deliver critical investment in health, education and infrastructure has been criticised by the Hunter’s Labor Federal MPs.
Federal Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon said the budget has frustratingly ignored fundamental infrastructure needs in the Hunter.
“There is very little in the budget for the Hunter region unfortunately. They were talking about a big cash splash on infrastructure but we haven’t received our share,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“We have four projects desperately in need of funding that have been forgotten by this Government. The Glendale Interchange in Lake Macquarie; the Singleton bypass; the Muswellbrook bypass; and the proposed “Cessnock Ring Road” linking Cessnock and the Hunter Expressway are crucial to our region’s growth and have been stalled for yet another year.”
“We wanted equality of opportunity for regional people in health, education, aged care and childcare and the funding for all of those areas have been cut in this budget.
“In the Hunter we need an increase in quality skills training to fill important employment gaps in our region. Instead, this Government has continued harmful cuts to TAFE. My real passion is boosting jobs in the Hunter and getting young people into employment to grow our region so I believe more funding cuts to TAFE are devastating.”
Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said the Budget fundamentally failed the fairness test.
“Mr Turnbull is cutting billions of dollars from Newcastle-Hunter schools, hospitals and the University of Newcastle to prop up his appalling tax cuts for big business and the banks,” Ms Claydon said.
“And the modest tax cuts in no way make up for the loss of penalty rates, record low wage growth and job insecurity that Newcastle workers face under this government.”
Member for Shortland Pat Conroy said the budget is a kick in the guts to the Hunter and Central Coast regions.
“The Government have locked in their $80 billion of tax cuts for the big end of town. While the Government is able to find billions of dollars for big corporations and is giving Australians earning $200,000 a tax cut of over $7,000 a year, the average worker in Shortland will only get an $8 a week tax cut,” Mr Conroy said.
“Our region is proud to have strong manufacturing and mining sectors so the announcement of a $270 million cut to TAFE funding, on top of their earlier TAFE cuts, is a disgraceful attack on those industries and regions like ours that rely on those jobs.”
Member for Dobell Emma McBride said further cuts to TAFE would be devastating for the Central Coast, where youth unemployment is at 18.6%.
“TAFE used to be a trusted pathway, but our young people are being let down by this Government,” Ms McBride said.
“We need a boost to TAFE and apprenticeships, not cuts.”
Ms McBride said the Government’s approach to aged care was “a cruel hoax”.
“With 100,000 people on the waiting list for home care, the government will only fund 14,000 new packages over four years, and take funding away from residential care to pay for it. They cannot be serious about looking after older Australians if this is what they do.”
Member for Paterson, Meryl Swanson, was angry that her constituents in the PFAS contamination zones near RAAF Base Williamtown were overlooked.
“I wanted this Government to take action and responsibility and yet again they failed to deliver for the people of Williamtown and surrounds,” Ms Swanson said.
Ms Swanson was also disappointed that funds were not allocated for the Pacific Highway (M1) extension from Beresfield to Raymond Terrace, which is on the Infrastructure Australia Priority List.
“This stretch of road is where the national motorway comes to an end and forms part of a critical freight and vehicular corridor between Sydney and Brisbane,” Ms Swanson said.
“It’s a strategic junction between the New England Highway and the Port of Newcastle. But just as importantly it’s vital for the constituents of my rapidly growing electorate, whose travel regularly grinds to a halt on this road.”