BIG BUDGET BOOST TO AGED CARE, JOBS AND FAMILIES

Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O’Brien said while there are many big numbers in the 2021-22 Budget for big spending programs designed to achieve big outcomes, the test will be is what difference is made on the ground.

“The headline funding announcements sound impressive, but they must make a practical difference to achieve their stated outcomes,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I welcome the $17.7 billion record commitment for aged care, which includes an extra 80,000 new home care packages, but this funding boost must address the serious pressures the aged care sector faces.

“This additional funding must deliver an increase to aged care providers, and an increase to the number of packages available in regional areas like Wide Bay.

“After my long campaign calling for fair pay for Occupational Therapists and other allied health professionals who care for veterans, the Government has acted in this Budget with a $61.9 million boost for these services which will increase the availability and quality of care provided to veterans.

“Funding for mental health and suicide prevention is also increased in the Budget with $2.3 billion to improve outcomes and access to services, and this must also mean that local services like headspace receive the funding they need to meet local demand.”

Around 49,100 taxpayers in Wide Bay will benefit from tax relief of up to $2,745 this year, from the extension of the low and middle income tax offset to 2021-22 and the decision to bring forward Stage 2 of the Government’s tax relief plan.

“This means more money for local households to assist with the cost of living, and it will also help generate economic activity to create jobs,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We’re also making childcare more affordable by increasing the child care subsidy for families with more than one child aged five and under, which will benefit around 250,000 families nationally by an average of $2,200 each year.”

The Morrison Government is doubling its commitment to the JobTrainer Fund to support a further 163,000 new training places to upskill job seekers and meet skills shortages. The Budget also funds more than 170,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships and 5,000 higher education short courses.

“An extended and expanded JobTrainer Fund will upskill job seekers and young people, which has supported 1,490 apprentices in Wide Bay. These new measures will lead to more opportunities for apprentices and trainees with expanded wage subsidies,” Mr O’Brien said. 

“The Morrison Government is continuing tax incentives that will help around 19,500 businesses in Wide Bay to write off the full value of any eligible asset they purchase. This will help them to purchase new equipment, increasing their productivity and encouraging business owners to hire staff and expand production. 

“Around 6,500 businesses in Wide Bay will be able to use the extended loss carry back measure to support cash flow and boost confidence.”

In Maryborough, the Budget provides a final payment of $8.5 million towards the $60 million Rheinmetall Nioa Munitions plant. 

“The Morrison Government’s $28.5 million contribution is already helping to create an extra 100 permanent local jobs, as well as building Australia’s sovereign defence manufacturing capabilities with this world-class facility,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Projects along the Bruce Highway in Wide Bay also receive funding in the Budget including the Cooroy to Curra Section D Gympie bypass, which is under construction now and due for completion in 2024.

“The Budget also commits $11.2 million towards the $14 million reconstruction of the intersection of the Bruce and Wide Bay Highways at Bells Bridge, which is expected to be completed this financial year.”

“The Budget also includes $20 million for the overtaking lanes on the Bruce Highway at Tinana which are finally taking shape. This project is fully funded by the Morrison Government and is due to be completed later this year. There is also an allocation of $19,987,698 in 2021-22 towards the $103 million Saltwater Creek upgrade near Aldershot.

“I want the Bruce Highway to be as safe as possible and I remain steadfast in my call on the Queensland Government to listen to everyone who has signed the petition calling for a four lane Tiaro bypass. We need the State to do its job and bring forward the four lane design and cost estimates for this project that is essential for road safety and the economic future of our region,” Mr O’Brien said.

The Tablelands Road Bridge at Cooran and Wahpunga Lane Bridge at Kin Kin will be completed in 2021-22 with $1,240,949 allocated through the Bridges Renewal Program towards these projects.

Improving water security remains a priority with an $18 million commitment for a water storage project for Maryborough and an allocation of $450,000 towards the Government’s $3.5 million contribution to the North and South Burnett Water Infrastructure Feasibility Study.

Councils in Wide Bay will receive the following allocations through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program in the 2020-21 financial year to spend on local priority projects: 

•       Cherbourg Aboriginal Shore Council – $79,698
•       Fraser Coast Regional Council – $3,824,114
•       Gympie Regional Council – $2,723,604
•       Noosa Shire Council – $1,580,692
•       South Burnett Regional Council – $3,288,930
•       Sunshine Coast Regional Council – $7,307,535

The Financial Assistance Grants program will continue to support Council priorities and the Roads to Recovery program will help repair, maintain and upgrade local roads.

“The highly-regarded Hope Reins at Langshaw receives $97,500 in the Budget out of a total contribution of $140,000 from the Morrison Government towards their new education centre,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Cooroy Badminton Hall receives a final payment of $10,000 out of a total $20,000 Australian Government contribution towards its amenities block upgrade.

“The Budget also delivers a final payment of $98,750 to complete the Maryborough Portside Cultural Precinct, taking the Australian Government’s total contribution to $395,000 for the project, as well as a $40,000 allocation for the Avenues Lifestyle Support Association’s Sherwood Hall refurbishment at Gympie.

“Work is well underway at the Murgon Fossil Museum and Cultural Centre, which has been allocated $1,087,900 in 2021-22 of its $1,596,514 funding, and I look forward to seeing the project completed this year.

“The final stage of the Rufous Street Masterplan, the new Peregian Beach Community House, was allocated $1,517,500 out of a total Australian Government $2,550,179 contribution, and I’m pleased to see work is well underway on this fantastic facility for the Noosa community that is due to be finished in November this year.” 

A $250 million extension of the Building Better Regions Fund will provide councils, community groups, sporting clubs and veterans service organisations in Wide Bay the opportunity to apply for funding for projects that improve local communities.  

“A further round of the popular Stronger Communities Program will give not for profit and volunteer groups in Wide Bay funding to help them purchase equipment, build new facilities, or renovate existing buildings to create more opportunities for their members and the community.”

Mr O’Brien said the real test of the 2021-22 Budget will be in what impact it has on the ground for local families and businesses, creating jobs and delivering better services.

“There’s much to be done, and it’s important that people in Wide Bay benefit from the broader Budget measures,” Mr O’Brien said. 

“I will continue to provide strong and effective representation to build a better Wide Bay.”