THE federal government has delivered on its election promises to Indi and Farrer, including funding for the $5 million Border cardiac laboratory.
While Liberal MP for Farrer Sussan Ley welcomed the budget as fair, Indi independent Cathy McGowan was concerned about the $7 GP co-payment and changes to welfare.
Ms McGowan said the budget showed strong financial management, but stopped short of endorsing it.
She said she would consult constituents before her formal budget response in Parliament in three weeks’ time.
The cardiac catheter lab was the big-ticket election promise for both electorates secured by Ms Ley and former Liberal MP for Indi Sophie Mirabella.
Funding was also confirmed for the Albury-Wodonga headspace centre for youth mental health as part of $14.9 million over four years for 10 sites nationwide.
Ms Ley said she expected the Border headspace could open by December.
“I’ve already had the team in to Albury and they’ve given feedback on what we need,” she said.
“Gateway Health is the lead agency to implement it, but the money is there for them to do that.”
Ongoing funding for the $70 million Border cancer centre was also re-confirmed.
In Indi, $150,000 promised for a Bright hospital upgrade feasibility study appears to have been raised to $200,000.
Funds of $1.2 million to improve roads in Indigo and $50,000 for CCTV cameras in Myrtleford — both promised by Mrs Mirabella — were also confirmed.
“People were worried that we were going to get punished (for defeating Mrs Mirabella), but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Ms McGowan said.
She was also pleased $100 million had been committed to fixing mobile phone blackspots, but feared the GP co-payment would damage the health system, particularly public hospitals.
Ms McGowan said she was concerned about the re-introducing work for the dole and restricting young people’s access to Newstart, given Indi already had high youth unemployment and too few education opportunities.
“I’m going to undertake electorate-wide consultation on this,” she said.
“We’ll be out there asking what the major issues in the budget are for people,” she said.
“I’ll reserve my judgment until I hear people’s opinion.”
Asked how she would pitch the budget to Farrer constituents, Ms Ley said: “Overwhelmingly it’s a fair budget”.
“For the good of the country, this budget is necessary and I believe everyone equally and fairly shares the pain.”
- By JAMES MASSOLA
Labor has slammed Joe Hockey’s first budget, labelling it a document of “broken promises, cruel cuts and unfair increases in the cost of living”.
Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen singled out the $80 billion in cuts to education and health for criticism as he warned every family would be hit by new taxes and charges, while pensioners would feel betrayed.
“This is the deceitful, voodoo economics of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey from before the election catching up with them,” Mr Bowen said.
He said the government’s infrastructure growth package was an “amateur con” and pointed out the small number of new road projects that would be funded by cuts to public transport projects, while families would feel the pain of higher petrol and health costs.
The federal budget had been built on “the destruction of Medicare, and the end of fair and affordable higher education.
It is a budget built on Tony Abbott’s act of mass deceit at the last election”.
“Tony Abbott said there would be no new taxes and no increase to taxes ... he has broken his promises and now Australians will pay the price,” he said.
“Labor does under-stand that in challenging times, budgets need tough choices.
“But these are the wrong choices for our future.”
Mr Bowen said the opposition would consider individual budget measures over the coming days, leaving open the prospect of individual measures being supported, but said that unlike the Coalition, Labor would be “guided by what is fair and what is economically responsible”.
Greens leader Christine Milne labelled the budget divisive, brutal and backward-looking and suggested it had been “written in the boardrooms of Australia”.
“Big business is quarantined completely as the community pays,’’ she said.
“There is no vision for the future of the country. Suggesting that you are looking after the next generation, when you are ignoring climate change, when you’re directing infrastructure funding into roads instead of public transport, instead of the NBN, instead of the renewable energy sector.”
Senator Milne said her party would attempt to redirect money that had been allocated to roads to public transport funding when it came to the Senate.