Budget delivers results for regional Australia

Budget 2019-20 delivers results for regional Australia


Opinion
Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, Treasurer Josh Frydneburg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, Treasurer Josh Frydneburg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

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Opinion: regional infrastructure investment key to government's vision

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THIS year's federal budget again shows why having the Nationals in government, focused on serving the regions, will deliver real outcomes that improve the lives of regional Australians.

It would take a Labor Treasurer at least five budget night speeches for the regions to be mentioned as many times as they were in Josh Frydenberg's budget night speech and an infinitely higher number to ignite the positive news headlines that subsequently followed.

Under Labor, bush funding is always cut, slashed, sidelined or forgotten in favour of big spending on projects and programs in the cities, to chase urban votes.

But this year's budget ensures regional Australia remains at the forefront of this government's agenda, underscored by the age of infrastructure where we're building roads, rail, bridges, dams and ports that all make a difference.

This is a budget for infrastructure, a budget for regional Australia, and a budget that relieves real cost of living pressures on families and boosts opportunities for small businesses.

We're increasing infrastructure spending to $100 billion over the decade with a multitude of regional projects and it's all happening without needing to increase taxes.

In fact, we're lowering taxes to enable people to keep more of the money they earn.

Taxpayers earning up to $126,000 a year - many of them teachers, nurses and tradies - are getting a tax cut.

A single income family will see an extra $1,080 in their pocket per year and a dual income family will have an extra $2,160 extra per year.

They've earned this money so we want to ensure they can keep it in their pockets to spend on what they want and need which means more spending in regional businesses to help fuel local economies.

Our $100 billion infrastructure plan over 10 years includes an additional $23 billion of new funding for projects and initiatives to benefit every State and Territory while driving local job opportunities.

Infrastructure projects such as the Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail will deliver freight more efficiently and at lower costs from farm gate to markets, putting more money in farmers' pockets.

We're delivering new infrastructure projects that will unlock the potential of our regions while managing population growth and improving road safety.

Regional investments such as an additional $2.2 billion for initiatives to create safer roads to save lives and reduce injuries and $1 billion to improve freight routes and access to ports to boost business productivity, will make the nation stronger.

We're also boosting regional airport investment by up to $100 million to ensure regional people and their communities get the infrastructure and services they deserve for business, leisure, health and education needs.

Our financial plan has also locked-in drought support to provide assistance, such as those communities where it hasn't rained for up to seven years, and money for safeguarding regional Australians against future natural disasters.

We know we live in a land of droughts, floods and bush fires which is why the budget delivered $6.3 billion in drought support measures while $3.3 billion has also been allocated to support those affected by flood.

We've also expanded the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund by $500 million because we want to build water infrastructure that helps to drought-proof regional communities and grow economic activity and resilience, by boosting water security.

Unlike Labor and the Greens, we believe in building water infrastructure - not obstructing progress - because we understand water is the lifeblood of our regional communities and this most precious resource is what drives local economies and makes them stronger.

We will establish a new $3.9 billion Emergency Response Fund to ensure additional resourcing is available to support future natural disaster recovery efforts.

This year's budget also includes funding for a new scholarship program for more than 1,000 students to study in regional Australia each year.

Another highlight is the instant asset write-off being increased from $25,000 to $30,000 and expanded to businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million which will cover an additional 22,000 businesses, employing 1.7 million Australians, including many in the regions.

This Government's investment in our regional communities builds confidence, encourages private sector investment and creates jobs.

That's why the budget announced a further $200 million towards a fourth round of the Building Better Regions Fund taking it a total commitment of $841.6 million, while the Stronger Communities Program saw $22.7 million added for a fifth round taking it to $107.1 million.

These increased investments are complemented by the roll-out of the $272.2 million Regional Growth Fund and the $222.3 million Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, to unlock more economic opportunities in our regions.

This type of delivery with positive gains for the regions is all made possible because of a budget that has a plan to deliver $158 billion of tax relief for hard-working Australians.

A surplus of $7.1 billion represents a $55 billion turnaround on the deficit our government inherited six years ago from Labor whose thinking hardly ever extends beyond the CBD of a big city.

This strong budget management means we can deliver funding for the regions to secure a better future and reduce cost of living pressures.

This means spending more than $80 billion on healthcare with better access to regional GPs and more funding for mental health services while looking after older Australians and retirees; not just with tax relief or lower power bills.

When it comes to their future, regional Australians know they need to look no further than the budget to know their choice is clear.

Michael McCormack is Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader.

The story Budget delivers results for regional Australia first appeared on Farm Online.

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