Nationals MPs condemn “no hope, no solutions, no plan budget”

UPON delivering the Albanese Labor Government’s first Budget last Tuesday, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the plan was “responsible, right for the times, and begins to build a better future for Australia”.

Mr Chalmers said the Budget delivers responsible cost-of-living relief which doesn’t put additional pressure on inflation; targeted investments to build a stronger, more resilient, and more modern economy; and begins the long-term task of Budget repair.

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“A deteriorating global outlook, high inflation and energy prices, and rising interest rates make this a time of great challenge for Australians, with impacts on the economy and the Budget,” said Mr Chalmers.

“Our best defence against this combination of challenges is a Budget that is solid, sensible and suited to the conditions we confront.

“The Budget implements our commitments to the Australian people to deliver cheaper child care, fee-free TAFE, cleaner and cheaper energy, and a future made in Australia.

“After years of wasted opportunities and warped priorities under the former Government – that delivered energy chaos, stagnant wages, a skills crisis, and a trillion dollars of debt with not enough to show for it – this Budget marks an end to the wasted decade.

“It confronts the challenges that have been ignored for too long and seizes the opportunities that won’t wait any longer,” Mr Chalmers said.

Within the Budget the Government revealed a $7.5 billion, five-point plan to deliver targeted cost-of-living relief for households without adding to inflation.

The plan includes:
● Cheaper child care for more than 1.2 million families.
● Progressively expanding Paid Parental Leave to six months by 2026.
● Cheaper medicines by reducing the PBS maximum general co-payment to $30 a script.
● More affordable housing – including a new National Housing Accord to build more affordable and well-located homes for Australians.
● Getting wages moving again – including supporting the increase to the minimum wage; supporting a wage rise for aged care workers; fixing the bargaining system; and investing in the capabilities of our people and the capacity of our economy.

Speaking in parliament last Wednesday following the Budget announcement, Member for Cowper Pat Congaghan decided on a Christmas-themed analogy to express his disappointment at the lack of funding allocated to support regional Australians.

“Scrolling through the headlines this morning to see the responses to last night’s budget, I came across a comment from one Luke Douglas who said watching Dr Jim (Chalmers) presenting the Budget last night was like watching Santa bypassing your home on Christmas Eve,” Mr Conaghan said.

“I couldn’t have put it better myself and it would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

“The Treasurer’s budget sleigh, pulled by reindeers renamed ‘Slasher’, ‘Dashed-Hopes’, ‘Cut-It’ and ‘Victims’ flew straight past the homes of regional Australians, gleefully calling their empty stockings ‘pork barrels’.”

Mr Conaghan continued the holiday themed commentary as he lamented the loss of allocated funding for South Cross University’s health campus in Coffs Harbour.

“One notably empty stocking in my own electorate belongs to Southern Cross University in Coffs Harbour.

“The Treasurer has slashed the $27 million budgeted that was previously allocated to complete the campus’ health service precinct.

“The precinct would have had a health clinic with speech and voice labs, mental health and therapy rooms, rehabilitation and exercise studios, and consultation rooms.

“These facilities would have created local jobs, guaranteed essential healthcare services, and contributed to the growth and prosperity of the region.

“Are jobs, health and education not supposedly the focus of this new government, or was that just for their metro mates?

“There was no ‘ho ho ho’ it was all ‘no no no’,” Mr Conghan finished.

Also Less than impressed with the government’s plans was Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan, who described Tuesday’s announcement as a “no hope, no solutions budget”.

“There is no grand plan here,” Mr Hogan said.

“Labor Treasurer Jim Chalmers, ‘Mr Misery’, has been talking us into an economic downturn since he took office and is delivering on this tonight.”

Mr Hogan said the Budget was devoid of effective cost-saving solutions for families.

“Energy prices are going up 56 percent over the next two years.

“The unemployment rate is forecast to go up, 140,000 people are forecast to lose their jobs this year.

Interest rates are predicted to go up, meaning higher mortgage costs for families.

“Labor went to the election saying they will decrease everyone’s electricity bill by $275 per year.

“This is not going to happen.”

Mr Hogan also criticised Labor for having “cut or deferred $9.3 billion from infrastructure programs”.

“The cutting of money from regional infrastructure programs is particularly hurtful.

“The accusation by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese that the National Party were ‘committed to pork-barrelling’ is an insult to the important needs of our regional communities.”

“Through funding such as the Building Better Regions Fund, I was able to secure money for projects such as the Casino Saleyards, Grafton Riverside Precinct, Crozier and Oakes Oval upgrades in Lismore and the Woolgoolga Sports Complex.”

The Budget documents are available to read on the website.

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