Constituency Statement - Budget 2018
Mr PITT (Hinkler—Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister) (11:05): I rise to speak about our budget from Tuesday night and its effect on the people of my electorate of Hinkler. Mr Deputy Speaker, you may not know, but according to the Australian Local Government Association, the per capita income in the statistical area of Wide Bay is the lowest in the country, at just $34,000 per year. They and the people of my electorate—49,000 hardworking, taxpaying individuals—will receive tax relief up to the tune of $530 as a result of the budget on Tuesday night, and that is substantial to them. It will make a real difference to their lives and will be an economic boost for our local area. For those 36,000 individuals above the age of 65, our commitment to 20,000 additional packages for home care—6,000 from MYEFO and 14,000 on Tuesday night—will be a relief for them. For those who don't require that service yet but know they may in the future, for those who wish to stay in their own homes longer, this is very much needed support, and I'm very pleased it's being delivered.
In relation to those things already delivered in this term of government, we've had a discussion with the local mayor, Jack Dempsey, from Bundaberg Regional Council, whom I've known for some time. I'd say to the mayor that we have already delivered on our financial assistance grants promises—around $7 million per year on average. That is a cash and untied payment. There is $50 million to upgrade security at regional airports, which will include the Bundaberg Regional Council and Hervey Bay regional airports. There's a $250 million commitment for major projects business cases. We've had a lot of discussions about our local port, which is owned and operated by the Gladstone Ports Corporation, but expansions cost from $2 billion to $5 billion, and they can't be done on the back of a coaster. So this is a very important announcement to develop local business cases.
Recently we delivered $2.9 million for the Burnett Heads town centre redevelopment; $6 million, in partnership with BRC and Pacific Tug, for an upgrade at the Bundaberg port; $5 million through BBRF for the multiplex expansion; $400,000 for Christsen Park; $1.4 million for Kay McDuff Drive; $3 million through Roads to Recovery for Eggmolesse Street upgrades; and $3.2 million for black spot safety upgrades. I say to the mayor, and to the councillors in particular, that when a cash grant arrives through the financial assistance grants, there is an opportunity to put some of that money back into our economy through a reduction in rates. If they could do that, that would be money for people who are in a very difficult position, whose average per capita income is just $34,000 a year. We've done our part—we've provided tax relief, which is much needed, with a very large injection into our local economy. I'd say to our regional councils that there is an opportunity here for you to reduce the cost of living. Use the cash grants to reduce the costs of rates to those individuals, who will be very much appreciative of it. I once again commend the budget. It's been a very good budget. I look forward to its implementation.