Doctor fee, petrol tax key Indi concerns

Cathy McGowan speaks to Kiewa’s Nat Sarinan and Brad Freak about the budget at Barnawartha. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

Cathy McGowan speaks to Kiewa’s Nat Sarinan and Brad Freak about the budget at Barnawartha. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

THE proposed $7 co-payment to see a GP and the return of indexed petrol-price rises shape as key budget concerns for the North East voters of Indi.

The member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, yesterday said she had found many people shared her concerns that the Coalition’s first budget was unduly tough on young people.

The Coalition plans to make those under 30 wait six months for Newstart unemployment payments.

Those under 25 will be put on the lower rate of the Youth Allowance.

“I got a really diverse range of responses,” she said after she and her team quizzed people on Wodonga’s High Street and at the Barnawartha football ground on Saturday.

“Some were not interested at all and some think the government’s doing a fantastic job,” she said.

Ms McGowan said she had listened to many “moving stories” from people already facing cost-of-living pressures due to rate rises and having to travel to Melbourne for medical treatment.

“It’s not just these things. It’s all of these coming together,” she said. “Life is hard, they told me.”

Yet, she said, young people at Barnawartha had told her they had jobs and weren’t worried.

Ms McGowan will write a report, including about 50 letters she has received, and hand it to other federal MPs and Treasurer Joe Hockey.

She said with Indi now a “bellwether” seat, her independent report would garner widespread interest.

Ms McGowan was dismayed last week by Mr Hockey’s reply to her question in Parliament about whether the impact on rural and regional young people had been factored into the Newstart changes.

Mr Hockey’s response had left her wondering whether he understood the realities for young rural people.

“He didn’t talk about young people. He talked about old people,” she said. “He didn’t answer the question.”

Ms McGowan said it was too early to determine the percentages of those for, against or indifferent to the budget and she would quiz people for two more weeks.

She will be in Wang-aratta today and in Benalla this weekend.

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