Hunter region “pick-pocketed” in last night’s Budget: Ross Cadell

While the Labor ministers in the Hunter spruik a $15 million surplus and cost of living relief, the Nationals say the region got next to nothing out of the Budget.

Among the announcements in the Budget last night were JobSeeker payments being increased by $40 a fortnight, Commonwealth Rent Assistance lifted by 15 per cent and single parents being $380 a month better off.

Eligible households and businesses will also get some relief off their energy bills with $1.5 billion being spent on rebates, and children under 16, pensioners and other concession holders will get greater access to GP visits.

For the Hunter region there was a further $4 billion poured into supporting green hydrogen production and $25 million a year recommitted to the Port of Newcastle’s clean energy project. $100 million will also be spent over the next four years building four more maintenance bays for the joint strike fighters project at the Newcastle airport precinct and $13.5 million was announced over three years for a new high speed rail authority to plan the high-speed rail project between Newcastle and Sydney.

Nationals Senator Ross Cadell said if you’re a working person in the Hunter, you were pick-pocketed.

“All of these handouts were given to people who don’t work, who don’t drive the economy and  there are some people in need, we get that, but shouldn’t there be a reward for the people who built this surplus?

“If you search Newcastle or Hunter in the entire Budget Paper you find only three things and they are all related to Newcastle airport or the Port of Newcastle which were already announced by the previous government in the last Budget. We produce the surplus and there is nothing in it for us.

“We are here and we are sprinting towards the closure of the coal industry and we’re crawling towards diversification. Where are the jobs for people of the Hunter?”

Shortland MP, Minister for Defence Industry and International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy on the other hand said last night’s Budget will not only do wonders for cost of living, but see projects progress.

One of those projects, high-speed rail between Newcastle and Sydney.

“The last budget put aside $500 million to start the work on the first leg which is Sydney to Newcastle and that is complemented by the money in this year’s budget to establish the planning authority to actually deliver on high speed rail.

“We know Hunter families and pensioners are doing it tough so 76,000 people in Shortland will benefit from the tripling of the bulk billing incentive. We know lots of people are finding it difficult to find a doctor, especially a doctor that bulk bills so this will really help with cost of living as will the halving of medicine costs.

“At the moment people are choosing between seeing a doctor or getting medicine or paying the rent or buying groceries so we as a government have committed to changing that,” said Pat Conroy.

Hunter MP Dan Repacholi said the big winner in the Hunter is the energy sector.

“There’s a $2 billion announcement for the Hydrogen Headstart project all over Australia and we definitely have one happening in the Hunter which is great and there will be many more coming, we have the National Net Zero Authority which will help those power station workers as the private investment companies start to move away from coal fired power stations and it will ensure they get the training and education they need to be able to move into other industries,” he said.

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