Cathy McGowan’s grievance debate

INCREASING the Medicare levy, taxing superannuation income and keeping the carbon tax — these are Indi voters’ suggestions to fix the federal budget.

The Indi budget report, due to be launched by Indi MP Cathy McGowan in Wodonga this morning, reveals voters’ top concerns aren’t so different from other Australians, with health, education, welfare and the fuel excise topping the list.

But alternatives they have proposed might surprise some, including suggestions that:

- the Medicare levy should be increased instead of introducing a GP co-payment;

- the government should fix the carbon tax system rather than axe it — it had been generating money;

- superannuation income should be taxed, especially for those with large incomes;

- deeming rules should alter to stop excessive tax concessions for people with several investment properties; and

- the debt levy should be extended to ensure wealthier people fully share the burden.

Ms McGowan moved this final point in Parliament last week but it was not supported by either side of the house.

The Indi report has been compiled from 726 responses during a two-week community consultation.

The process was open to all Indi residents who wished to take part.

About 56 per cent of the res-ponses came from face-to-face discussions at listening posts.

Reaction to the GP co-payment was mixed — responses varied from those believing it was unfair to others who did not mind paying if it helped keep the system viable.

Most respondents took the view that too much of the fallout from budget would be borne by pensioners, low-income earners and young people such as students and those seeking work.

Denying dole payments to unemployed people under 30, and raising the pension age, failed to recognise the difficulties regional job seekers faced, the report read.

Ms McGowan yesterday criticised the Abbott government as failing to have a long-term plan for rural and regional Australia.

She pointed to the lack of a rural and regional ministerial statement in the budget, something included in every budget since the 1960s.

“They (rural residents) are worried they’ve not been taken into account,” she said in Canberra.

She said exclusion of the statement had been a “lost opp- ortunity” to see the “big impact” the budget would have on areas like Indi.

During Question Time yesterday, Mc McGowan teamed with Greens MP Adam Bandt to try to have standing orders suspended so the fairness of the budget could be debated, particularly in light of media reports the Liberal Party had “tricked” its Nationals counterparts into supporting the resumption of fuel excise tax.

The motion lapsed for lack of support.