Bill Tilley avoids criticising Budget

Member for Benambra Bill TIlley.
Member for Benambra Bill TIlley.

BENAMBRA MP Bill Tilley says polling woes that have hit the federal government over its harsh budget won’t lose him votes at the state election in November.

The Liberal backbencher said he had faith in his constituents’ ability to separate state and federal issues.

He spruiked loudest over Victoria’s own $1.3 billion surplus budget and what he said been strong commitment to getting infrastructure and services into Benambra.

Joe Hockey’s first budget has propelled Labor to a 12 percentage-point lead at 56-44 (based on preference flows), according to a new Age/Nielsen nationwide phone poll.

Mr Tilley would not directly criticise the federal budget, though said Victoria was clearly more committed to protecting people struggling to make ends meet.

“When it comes to the issues of concessions, we’ve covering that where the Commonwealth has cut those for pensioners and low-income families,” he said.

“We’re covering those costs and we will continue to ensure that those vulnerable who need those concessions will continue to get them.”

Victoria has been left smarting from a $20 billion funding shortfall for its schools and hospitals as a result of the federal budget, which outlined $80 billion in cuts nationally over the next decade.

Premier Denis Napthine described this as a “severe blow”, and has since called for Victoria to get a much better share of GST revenue from the Commonwealth.

When asked whether he thought the Hockey budget was too harsh, Mr Tilley said decisions “had to be made”.

“But at the end of the day I’m working with the state government and a state premier to build a better Victoria,” he said.

“When it comes to the challenges of the federal budget, I am absolutely behind Denis Napthine.

“He is defending Victoria, he is stating a good case, as is the Treasurer Michael O’Brien.

“We’ve been dudded historically over GST revenues, one of the lowest in the nation at only 88 cents in the dollar.

“NSW is around 98 cents and Queensland are over a dollar for every dollar they contribute towards GST.”

Mr Tilley said he had spent the past 18 months preparing his case for projects he could take to Benambra voters at the next state poll.

“My focus is not Canberra or Sydney or any other place, it’s all about the electorate of Benambra and getting the infrastructure and services that are needed,” he said.

“We saw how over the 11 years of the previous Labor government that we weren’t getting the attention we needed.”

Mr Tilley pointed to a range of projects achieved — CFA and SES stations, redevelopment of Wodonga Senior Secondary College and $3.8 million for Wodonga West Primary School.

And he expects to announce more good news before the poll.