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West 'left out'

Thursday, 12th May, 2011

Sussan Ley Sussan Ley

Ley says budget fails to deliver

By Gina Wilson

The first Federal Government Budget with Julia Gillard as prime minister has failed to deliver for western NSW, according to local MP Sussan Ley.

Focused on returning the budget to an election-promise surplus, it was the first budget not to include tax cuts and was described by Ms Ley as not in the interests of everyday Australians.

Despite more than $4.3 billion earmarked for country Australia in the 2011/12 Budget, Ms Ley said there was no new money for western NSW.

"The amount might sound impressive but the devil is in the detail," the Federal Member for Farrer said.

"There is no new spending allocated for the Far West, indeed most of it has been previously announced and is already underway."

While a $1.5 billion mental health funding pledge was welcomed, Ms Ley said money had been stripped for other parts of the health budget to pay for it.

"The mental health commitment is welcome but there is nothing else here for our public hospitals," she said.

"In fact there are major cuts in capital expenditure and surgery targets for emergency wards and elective surgery hidden away in the Budget Papers."

Despite the Federal Government saying it had already budgeted for up to $7 million in Super GP Clinic funding, Ms Ley said it would have been reassuring to see that the money was in fact available.

"The GP Super Clinic for Broken Hill was not announced specifically in this budget and while I'm told it's there until the Health Minister makes an announcement the delay and timing of its arrival is a major concern."

No money was flagged for our rural roads, a swathe of which were all but wiped out during summer flooding.

"There is no new money for NSW to spend on rural state roads.

"My information is the RTA is already struggling to keep up the most basic of maintenance in the Far West let alone reseal or update our key access routes."

Ms Ley also said $565 million budgeted for sleeper upgrades and re-railing the train line on the Whyalla to Parkes via Broken Hill rail line had been previously announced.

"This is smoke and mirrors gloss. The money had already been allocated and has simply been re-announced in a bid to try and pull the wool over our eyes."

A clamp down on welfare would also knock western NSW around, she said.

With around one third of the city's residents relying on welfare, including single parent payment, disability payment and unemployment benefits, changes would be difficult for locals.

Some changes include tougher eligibility requirements for those on the disability support pension, almost doubling the amount of time the long-term unemployed undertake work experience and making single mothers do more job training to keep their parenting payments.

The Federal Government also announced a freeze on the indexation of family tax benefit, baby bonus and paid parental leave.

"At a time of huge cost of living pressures, the Government is planning to strip $2b in support from families, what else needs to be said?"

A $4.2 million website which would allow regional funding to be tracked was also knocked by Ms Ley who said it would be much better spent on delivering quality services 

"Again, another feel good announcement but I can assure you people in regional Australia would rather have that $4.2m in the hand rather than on another layer of government with checks and balances just to see how Canberra is spending our taxpayer dollars."

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