MEMBER for Mallee Andrew Broad has warned Wimmera people Tuesday's Federal Budget will be devoid of grand new grants.
“We’re not going to get big licks of new money in this first budget,” he said.
“What we’re going to have to do is ensure the small expenditures that are so important to our rural communities and economies aren’t cut, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on.”
He said he had been lobbying for continued investment in health, education and community services, ongoing Roads to Recovery funding and maintaining the diesel fuel rebate, rather than asking for more money.
“I didn’t have a huge regard for what I saw in the Commission of Audit,” Mr Broad said.
“Its focus seemed to be on cuts, but some of the things they have suggested cutting will impact on our productivity.
“What we have to do is grow our economy so that our debt, relative to our economy, is strong.
“While we all recognise that for a very long time we’ve been spending more than we’ve been getting in our tax revenue, and we are going to have to find savings, I believe the challenge is growing our economy.”
“We’re not going to get big licks of new money in this first budget.''
Mr Broad has opposed the Coalition’s suggested increase in the pension’s eligibility age, and the suggested health co-payment scheme.
He believed people aged 65 to 70 should be encouraged to work part-time.
“If we simply increase the retirement age and have not developed the work market, then what we’re effectively going to see is that people will go on the dole until they hit 70,” he said.
“That’s not good for their self-esteem, or how we should treat people.
“Also, what we will see is that a wealthy person will retire at a time of their choosing, while a poor person will have to work until they are 70.”
He said the suggested co-payment for bulk-billed doctor’s fees would further compound pressures on rural people accessing medical care.
“The idea behind it is to stop people from going to the doctor unnecessarily,” Mr Broad said.
“If people are travelling a long way to go to a doctor, they are going at some cost to themselves as it is. So I haven’t supported it.”
He has ruled out budget funding for two projects he championed as a candidate: a weather radar station and residential upgrades at Longerenong College.
“I don’t think you’ll see Longerenong College in the budget, but I am fairly optimistic about it and it is something I am working on,” Mr Broad said.
“The weather station will take some time.”
He believed a deficit levy was unlikely to have a major impact in the electorate.