Tonight’s Federal Budget continues the sound financial management Northerners have come to expect from Coalition Governments.
The return to Budget surplus by 2021 is the centrepiece of a responsible Budget that continues essential funding and has some exciting new proposals.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will for the first time be fully funded and a new levy on the major banks will help achieve the long-term fiscal balance.
For the North, there are a number of new initiatives to help those living in rural and regional Australia and the Budget confirms previous commitments for Northern Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.
Particularly for the city of Townsville, where the water situation is critical, the Budget confirms the $500million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF) and the $60million in feasibility studies, of which $40million has already been allocated to the North.
The $5billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is able to be accessed for any serious infrastructure proposals that could help address Townsville’s water difficulties.
We can only await the Queensland Government’s completion of the federally funded feasibility studies and then hope that either the Queensland Government or Townsville City Council will come up with a feasible and sustainable proposal for water in the North.
New benefits for pensioners and first home buyers as well as mental health support and additional funding for education all feature in the Budget.
To address concerns raised by the Productivity Commission that some regional areas have been disconnected from our national growth, the Government will establish a $472million Regional Growth Fund.
The Bruce Highway and other roads in the north, including Beef Roads, have confirmed funding in the Budget.
Across the board, there are many new initiatives funded, and funding confirmed for literally hundreds of existing programs benefitting the North.