On Tuesday night, the federal government will hand down its Budget.
I will be reading it closely to see what it will do for the businesses, families and communities of Indi, and if it delivers the support we need for the prosperity that is within our reach.
Indi is a unique regional community. We face our own challenges and opportunities.
The pandemic put lives on hold, jobs evaporated, and the catastrophic border closure cut us off from health care, employment and our families.
We are still recovering.
But in the aftermath, we are seeing people flooding to our region.
Our tourism sector is run off its feet. There are more jobs on offer in regional Australia than even in the peak of the mining boom.
This creates its own stresses.
There is not enough housing, and not enough people skilled to fill the jobs on offer. Our road and rail infrastructure is not up to the task.
IN OTHER NEWS:
There are fears the economic boom will not be spread evenly across every part of our society, leaving some behind. If we are to benefit from the transformational forces at work, we need to get the fundamentals right to harness the future, make sure everyone gets a fair share and the most vulnerable are supported- Helen Haines
And there are fears the economic boom will not be spread evenly across every part of our society, leaving some behind.
If we are to benefit from the transformational forces at work, we need to get the fundamentals right to harness the future, make sure everyone gets a fair share and the most vulnerable are supported.
Together with local governments and communities I identified our regional economic priorities in the Indi budget submission, which we took directly to the Treasurer at a meeting in March.
As a result, here is just some of what I'll be looking for in the budget.
Road safety and accessibility is at the heart of education, employment, tourism and freight traffic in our region.
There are dozens of road projects that could be funded right now that would lead to short-term construction jobs and bolster our long-term economic growth.
By expanding existing infrastructure funds like Roads to Recovery, the Bridges Renewal Program and the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, we could fund important projects that are missing the final piece of funding to get off the ground.
And we need confidence that the federal government will chip in its share of maintenance funding to keep the North East rail line at its new upgraded standard.
Mobile coverage needs to be improved, especially in areas prone to emergencies.
Upgrades are happening quickly since I came to office, with 21 phone towers receiving back-up power facilities and over 43 per cent of available funds for Victoria going to Indi in the latest mobile phone black spot round. But reception issues still abound and more investment is needed.
The NBN is a critical piece of infrastructure we must get sorted. Too often rural properties are locked out of the roll-out.
Fast and reliable internet isn't a luxury, it's an essential utility, no matter where you live.
Getting NDIS, aged care and mental health right is non-negotiable for growing and ageing communities like ours.
We need to fill the skills gap and make sure that suitably qualified staff are in the right jobs and at the right numbers. We need to see investment in training for disability, aged care and mental health workers so that these critical services are high quality and accessible to all who rely on them.
I've worked as a nurse and a midwife, in big and small hospitals in our region, for over 35 years. I know our health care system could be so much better.
The federal government is a key partner in bringing a single-site, world-class hospital to the Border.
Whether it's in this budget, as part of the Regional Deal, or in a subsequent funding commitment, this is the hospital our community needs and deserves.
This week, after the budget is handed down, I will scrutinise it line by line to see if the government has listened to our local communities and has delivered the support we need to stabilise our economy and grow our prosperity.
Helen Haines is the independent federal member for Indi.
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