Riverina roads, rail star in Federal Budget

THE Riverina’s pivotal role in the plan for Inland Rail and Roads to Recovery funding has played a focal role in tonight’s Federal Budget, Riverina Nationals’ MP Michael McCormack says.

“Tonight’s Budget is a plan to back hard-working people and small businesses which want to make the most of Australia’s natural advantages in the future,” Mr McCormack said.

“The Riverina and Central West’s rich agricultural industries are set to benefit greatly from the Government’s recently-negotiated trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea. Part of delivering the jobs and growth of these new markets and opportunities is ensuring we can get that product to market as efficiently as possible.

“The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) plan for a Melbourne-to-Brisbane freight route has the Riverina electorate as its most critical artery in New South Wales. Tonight’s Budget delivers on the critical role our region will play in getting high-quality local produce to market,” Mr McCormack said.

Whilst the plan for inland rail delivers a wholescale freight route along the Eastern Seaboard, Mr McCormack said tonight’s Budget also helps deliver the critical “final mile” within regional communities, with timely boosts to the nation’s road budget.

“We have invested an additional $400m nationwide in the successful Roads to Recovery programme to make sure trucks and other industry can load and cart freight locally. Roads to Recovery empowers local Councils to direct Federal funding to local roads which it deems a priority, which will be welcome news to Riverina Councils,” Mr McCormack said.

Mr McCormack said tonight’s Budget will also deliver much-deserved tax cuts to small and medium businesses.

“Many Riverina people own or work in small and medium businesses which will see the benefits of a 2.5 per cent tax cut, delivering yet another injection into the engine room of regional communities,” Mr McCormack said.

“In addition to lowering the tax rate on these businesses and the people they employ, we are also widening the scope of businesses which can qualify, meaning more Riverina farmers and small businesspeople will keep more cash in their own pockets.”

The Nationals’ commitment to better regional health services was also expanded tonight, Mr McCormack said.

“Our redesigned Rural General Practice Grants Programme will support our key investment into rural and remote health services by providing a broader range of infrastructure grants to increase opportunities to teach and train health practitioners in the regions.”

Mr McCormack said the Budget was a proper, costed economic plan for the region’s future.

“Ours is a Budget which delivers on the Government’s plan for high-skilled jobs in innovation and productivity while harnessing the power of our natural water resources, delivering a better deal in rural health and helping young people get access to the jobs of the future they deserve.”

“The Riverina’s natural skills, industries and proactive attitudes means The Nationals’ plan for jobs and growth is good news for Riverina people and their communities while the Government makes steady progress to ensuring the nation’s debt and deficit is reduced.”

More information on the 2016 Federal Budget and the Government’s plan for jobs and growth can be found here: http://www.budget.gov.au/.

Cristy Houghton