Hunter and Central Coast Labor Members of Parliament expressed disappointment that our regions have been forgotten in this year’s budget.
Unfairness is the theme of this budget. It’s unfair to low and middle income families, unfair to pensioners, unfair to students and unfair to our community. While the big end of town is getting a tax cut, nearly everyone else will be paying more. Education funding is a great disappointment in this budget too. The $22 billion cuts from schools will mean less resources and individual attention for our kids’.
The Government has also jacked up student fees and cut university funding by $3.8 billion, which will act as a deterrent for mature age students and others who have not come straight from school, which make up around half of the student body attending the University of Newcastle’s Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses.
Money for TAFE, vocational education and apprenticeships has also been slashed. There are $600 million worth of cuts from TAFE and vocational education over the next four years, compared to current arrangements.
The MPs said this budget failed to invest in our regions through funding of local hospitals and financing crucial infrastructure.
The Member for Dobell Emma McBride said the Medicare rebate freeze must be lifted immediately as people are already experiencing increased upfront costs and out of pocket expenses.
“Around 15,000 people on the Central Coast say they have delayed seeing a doctor because of the cost, and around 30,000 have delayed or avoided filling prescriptions due to the cost.”
“Under Labor’s plan NSW public hospitals would have been $630 million better off, with investments specifically aimed at reducing ED and elective surgery waiting times. Would Wyong Hospital be facing privatisation if this funding was available? Having spent most of my working life as a pharmacist at Wyong Hospital, I want to see public hospitals on the Central Coast get their fair share of funding,” Ms McBride said.
The Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon said the budget was a slap in the face to the region in terms of infrastructure investment.
“There’s nothing for the Glendale Interchange. Every council in the region recognises that’s the number one infrastructure program in the region and it did not receive a dollar.
“The Singleton and Muswellbrook bypasses also missed out,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“It’s an utter disgrace the Government has failed to invest in the Glendale Transport Interchange in the budget. The benefits of this crucial piece of infrastructure are obvious to everyone except the Federal Government. Every dollar spent would unlock $94 of private sector investment and would create over 10,000 jobs,” the Member for Shortland, Pat Conroy said.
Mr Conroy also condemned the Government’s attack on pensioners.
“Taking $365 away from new pensioners and making people work until 70 demonstrates a callous disregard for our seniors,” Mr Conroy said.
The Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon said the cuts to universities and skills and training would have a negative impact on Newcastle.
“Cutting education to pay for a tax break for big business displays the contempt this Government treats students and job seekers with,” Ms Claydon said.
The Member for Paterson, Meryl Swanson, welcomed funding for the promised upgrade to Cessnock Road at Tester’s Hollow.
“The Government was forced into playing catch-up with Labor on this, and the community has lobbied long and hard,” Ms Swanson said.
Ms Swanson also noted that seeing money go towards Williamtown and PFAS in the budget is a minor victory, but much more should have been done.
“The Budget included $26.5 million in health and research measures, which was good, but did not address the issues of economic loss; aside from saying it was a ‘liability’ for the government. That is not good enough for the people of Williamtown.”