BUDGET 2017: Pros and cons for the North Coast
INVESTMENT in roads and new development were the big winners for the North Coast in the year's Federal Budget.
Page MP Kevin Hogan said the Coalition's investment in these key areas, from bridges for Kyogle to the Pacific Highway Upgrade, will greatly bolster the foundations for strong economic growth in our region.
He commended the budget's cost saving and allocation strategies, particularly those that increase taxes on banks and foreign investors.
"I like the way we are raising money, I like the fact that we are hitting the banks up for extra billions of dollars and some of our foreign investors for extra money and I think that's where we are making up the short fall," he said.
The allocation of $500 million for Better Regions Programme for infrastructure projects is a huge plus for the Northern Rivers, Mr Hogan said.
Developments to be funded under the budget include: the upgrade of Oakes Oval, Southern Cross LADS's safe driving centre, the Woodburn riverside upgrade, the Casino Sale Yard upgrade, the new Casino amphitheatre and the new sports complex at Alstonville.
The Stronger Communities Programme re-instigated to provide provides grants between $5,000 and $20,000 to community organisations and local governments for capital projects.
Our roads will also continue to receive cash injections with money confirmed to complete the Pacific Highway Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade as well as the Roads to Recovery program to help fix local council roadways.
Mr Hogan was also pleased dollars will be poured into the Bridge Renewal Program to help with Kyogle's wooden bridge construction.
The Inland Rail project from Brisbane to Melbourne project won't extend into the Northern Rivers, Mr Hogan confirmed.
NORTH Coast schools aren't losing a cent according to Mr Hogan with an additional $18.6 billion of needs-based funding into our schools over the next decade.
He said the discrepancies between allocations for different schools was largely due to State Government contributions.
Mr Hogan said the way the funding was calculated meant that "all of our schools would be getting more money than they otherwise would have".
"Commonwealth funding doesn't give you the whole picture," Mr Hogan said.
"So sometimes those school-to-school comparisons don't weigh up because the State Government funding is making up a lot more of that money like it would be with Ballina (Public School) for example."
Richmond MP Justine Elliot told the Northern Star that schools weren't receiving a fair deal in the budget.
She said education funding had been slashed by $22 billion by the Coalition.
On the other hand, Southern Cross University students will join thousands nationwide in a degree price hike and begin paying back their fees sooner under the new budget.
For our youngest learners, the government has invested $37.3 billion for childcare within the Jobs for Families package.
Treasurer Scott Morrison's declaration to reverse the Medicare freeze will help bulk-billing become more sustainable for GPs, Mr Hogan said.
But Mr Hogan acknowledged the Medicare Levy will be increased to 2.5% to facilitate the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
"You'd prefer not to put up taxes like the Medicare levy but we have to find the money to fund the NDIS, everyone believes and wants the NDIS to happen," Mr Hogan said
"I think raising the Medicare levy is the best way to do that."
Not everyone feels the same way with many criticising the move to slug taxpayers.
The Australian Medical Association indicated on social media that it wasn't impressed that the thaw on the Medicare freeze would be longer than expected.
Mr Hogan said the North Coast Primary Health Network has already enjoyed "a big spend" from the $115 million for mental health services referencing the network's recent roll out of a new innovative drug and alcohol rehabilitation program at The Buttery Centre at Binna Burra.
In the electorate of Page, Mr Hogan said he would seek to work with local councils to release more land for housing developments while balancing environmental considerations.
Building more homes to curb the shortage is a driving force fueling the government's fight to bring down the housing affordability crisis.
A remodeling of Federal funds to State Government will be focused on increasing housing supply, Mr Hogan said.
The government has put the pressure on foreign investors to rent out their properties intending to impose an annual charge of up to $5000 if residences are unoccupied or unavailable for rent for six months of the year or more.
A 50% cap will be placed on foreign ownership of new developments and they'll need to pay capital gains tax when they sell up.
From July 1, first home buyers have been given a leg up to help save more money faster by being able to salary sacrificing into their superfunds.
This will allow first home owners to enjoy a tax break while saving for their deposit under the Super Saver Scheme.
Mr Hogan assumed the $100 million to fund Landcare projects, a trade-off for the Green Army program, would be in the budget.
Aside from that, he said the government would continue its commitment to initiatives such as the Carbon Emissions Reduction Scheme and the Renewable Energy Target.