The Centre Alliance Member Rebekha Sharkie, and Liberal Member Tony Pasin, have shared concerns about a lack of investment in regional South Australia in the 2023 Federal Budget.
Sharkie, who represents the Hills Fleurieu electorate of Mayo has called the ‘Meat and Potatoes’ Budget, saying there are some substantial arrangements this year but nothing flashy, while Pasin from the electorate of Barker says local regional communities are ‘losers’ in the budget with the “local roads and community infrastructure program gone, stronger communities program scrapped, regional airports program cancelled.”
Sharkie agrees there could have been more for regional SA.
“I am concerned about the lack of funding for investment in the regions, that’s a worry for me as well as $2.2B that they’re redirecting from aged care residential homes across our electorate… and they’re redirecting that to other areas of aged care, which I’m concerned could lead to a bed shortage,” Sharkie said, adding some more positive thoughts about the Treasurers decisions.
“It’s a good budget in that there’s some basic meat and potatoes to it. There’s no dessert, there are some areas that desperately needed some investment, particularly around people who are on Centrelink payments,” Sharkie said.
A cost of living package will include an increase to Jobseeker, Austudy and Youth Allowance payments later this year, as well as a rise in rent assistance and the single parent payment.
An electricity subsidy of up to $500 will also apply for some households and small businesses.
Changes to Medicare will see low-income Australians and children bulk-billed at the doctors. Sharkie says this is something she has been advocating for.
“That’s something that I raised with the Healthcare Minister and something I’ve been talking about in the Parliament for some time. We need to make sure that people are going to the doctor and that they’re not saying they can’t afford to go and ending up in an emergency because they’re much sicker, or foregoing medical treatment,” Sharkie said.
Tony Pasin, who represents the Barker electorate, says the Budget is not tackling the cost-of-living crisis for many regional South Australians.
“The reality is here, there’s no growth expected in real wages this year, cost of living will continue to rise, gas and electricity prices will continue to go up, the budget indicates that unemployment will rise and inflation will stay stubbornly high,” Pasin said, adding that there are a couple of ‘sneaky tax’ inclusions in the budget.
“One is the truckies tax – a 5.2c per litre increase in the heavy vehicle road user charge, but the really sneaky one is a tax on farmers, a new food and fibre tax on farmers. It’s set to pay for biosecurity risks faced by international imports. It’s a 10 per cent increase on tax on research and development that’s undertaken by the farming sector,” Pasin said.
Read more about the 2023-24 Federal Budget via budget.gov.au.
Story by Jennie Lenman / ARN
Photo of Parliament House Canberra at Dusk by JJ Harrison, supplied via Wikipedia