Budget boosts Pacific Hwy upgrade
PAGE MP Janelle Saffin says it's now up to the State Government to put up or shut up after Treasurer Wayne Swan announced $3.6 billion in last night's Federal Budget to complete the duplication of the Pacific Hwy by 2016.
The funding boost is predicated on the NSW Government matching the federal funding dollar-for-dollar.
Mr Swan used his budget speech last night to pile the pressure on Barry O'Farrell's government over the highway funding, saying the federal money was on offer "provided the New South Wales Government also contributes its half".
Ms Saffin, who, as The Daily Examiner reported on Saturday also secured $4.3 million for a community health centre at Yamba, said a 50:50 arrangement for highway funding had been in place for some time.
"Under former prime minister John Howard, a 50:50 funding deal between federal and state governments always applied to the highway and everyone understood this," she said.
"New South Wales Roads Minister Duncan Gay, when in Opposition in 2007, challenged Labor's Eric Roozendaal to be a statesman and say 'Yes I will match that (John Howard's) money and save the lives of people in NSW that have to use this highway'.
"Now that Barry O'Farrell, Andrew Stoner and Duncan Gay are in government, they cannot be allowed to slip and slide on the numerous pledges and statements they have made, committing themselves to dollar-for-dollar funding for the highway."
The highway and hospital funding announcements for Page were contained in a Federal Budget that contained very few surprises, courtesy of a series of controlled leaks in the lead-up to last night.
Mr Swan, in handing down his fifth budget since Labor came to power in 2007, achieved - on paper at least - his promised surplus.
The modest $1.5 billion surplus for the 2012-13 financial year was achieved through "saving and redirecting $33.6 billion" over the next four years.
But in truth, the government's bark was worse than its bite when it came to delivering "the toughest budget in 25 years".
Mr Swan had promised a "fair-go" budget in recent days, and last night he revealed how he would pay for it. The mining boom.
He unveiled a $3.6 billion Spreading the Benefits of the Boom package, which he said had been designed to "share the proceeds of the mining tax with families and small business".
Forward estimates indicate the mining tax will generate $13.4 billion in revenue over four years.
"For too many Australians this feels like someone else's mining boom," Mr Swan said during his budget speech to parliament last night.
"So tonight, from the firm foundations of a surplus budget, we announce new policies to spread the benefits of the boom."
Mr Swan said the government was scrapping company tax cuts, which had been rejected by the Opposition and Greens, in favour of an increase to Family Tax Benefit Part A payments.
In Richmond, up to 12,000 families are expected to benefit.
This move, which Mr Swan said was at the "core" of the package, will cost the budget $1.8 million over four years.
"More than 1.5 million families will benefit … with nearly half taking home an extra $600 a year," he said.
The package also includes the $2.1 billion SchoolKids Bonus, announced over the weekend. It will replace the Education Tax Refund, with eligible families receiving a lump-sum payment next month, then $820 for high school students and $410 for primary school students next year.
An increase to the superannuation guarantee rate to 12%, to be funded by the mining tax, was also contained in the budget.
As expected, the government has set aside $1 billion over four years to fund the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and a $3.7 billion package to address Australia's aged-care crisis.
The Gonski review of education funding in Australia, which recommended an additional $5 billion spending, did not receive funding in this budget.
"The government is working with stakeholders on future arrangements, starting from 2014," Mr Swan said of the review.
The carbon price, which comes into effect on July 1, rated only four paragraphs in Mr Swan's lengthy speech.
"The price on carbon pollution that begins this year will only be paid by Australia's biggest emitters. It will not be levied on families," Mr Swan said.
"But to help with any price increases, we're cutting income tax and increasing payments to pensioners, families and recipients of allowances beginning this month."
The carbon tax is forecast to bring in $7.69 billion in the 2012-13 financial year, about 2% of total revenue.
-Additional reporting Jessica Grewal