| May 10, 2017

Federal Budget 2017 delivers fairness, security and opportunity for the Murray electorate

The Coalition Government last night delivered its 2017 Federal Budget with a key focus on fairness, security and opportunity for people across the Murray electorate.

Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum MP said this budget was about making the right choices which centred on growth for the region – securing more and better paid jobs; guaranteeing essential services; placing downward pressure on rising costs of living; securing reliable and affordable energy and ensuring the government lives within its means.

“Our economic growth has been hard won and we have consistently outperformed the largest advanced economies in the world but we shouldn’t take our success for granted. We are helping hardworking Australians in Murray with a plan for more and better jobs, by securing the essentials they rely on and by easing cost of living pressures” said Mr Drum.

“The Budget has delivered a wide range of outcomes that will positively impact the people of Murray, from major infrastructure investments and continuing commitment to regional development through to small business and aged care funding.”

Key budget measures for the Murray electorate include:

Regional Development
• A new $472 million Regional Growth Fund will be created. This fund will invest in transformational projects aiming to unlock the potential of regions, with Government investment of upwards of $10 million.
• Under the Regional Growth Fund, $200 million in additional funding will increase the Government’s commitment to the Building Better Regions Fund to almost $500 million for investment in projects across rural, regional and remote Australia.
• Regional communities will also receive investment through a third round of the Stronger Communities Program in 2017-18, to fund small capital projects in local communities, across Australia.
• Investing $24 million in Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships.
• Skilling Australians Fund to support 300,000 Australian’s skills training.

Infrastructure
• $10 billion has been made available in the new National Rail Program that supports vastly improved passenger rail services in our regions and cities.
• The Murray electorate may be a beneficiary from this infrastructure investment for both passenger and freight rail.
• $8.4 billion for the Inland Rail Project that provides the crucial freight link between Melbourne and Brisbane.

Small business
• Extension of the instant asset write-off: The 2017 Budget extends the $20,000 instant asset write-off for a further 12 months to 30 June 2018. The turnover threshold will also be lifted to $10 million. This measure will improve cash flow for small business, helping them to reinvest in their business and replace or upgrade their assets.
• Red Tape Reduction: The Coalition Government will further commit to reducing red tape by providing up to $300 million to States and Territories that remove unnecessary regulatory barriers. This builds on $5.8 billion of red tape reduction delivered by the Coalition Government.

Agriculture
• Establish a Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) to streamline the delivery of up to $4 billion in concessional loans.
• The RIC will administer the Government’s $2 billion farm business concessional loans from 2018–19, as well as the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility.
• The RIC will help strengthen farm businesses by providing them with access to low-cost finance so they can build and maintain diversity in the markets they supply, and take advantage of new and emerging opportunities across Australia and overseas.
• The Coalition Government has made an unprecedented level of funding available for loans to support farm businesses, delivering more than $660 million in concessional loans to over 1200 farm businesses. But we want to ensure that they can access that support as quickly, easily and consistently as possible.

Manufacturing
• Making businesses more competitive by making funding for innovative processes and equipment available through a new Advanced Manufacturing Growth Fund. The funding is for up to a third of the project cost of capital upgrades to establish and expand high value manufacturing in South Australia and Victoria. This fund builds on the existing $155 million Growth Fund that helps industry adjust to the wind-down of car manufacturing.
• Creating a new Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre to support small scale and pilot research projects in advanced manufacturing. This is good for small firms and early stage researchers because it helps them move quickly to larger scale research or commercialisation.
• Providing funding for larger scale advanced manufacturing research projects under the Cooperative Research Centre – Projects program including:
o Providing $10 million to establish Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Labs in South Australia and Victoria to serve industry in a variety of roles including test centre facilities and business capability development.
o A $5 million investment in higher education and industry student research to continue the flow of highly trained engineers to the automotive design and engineering sector.
• Removing tariffs on imported vehicle prototypes and components used by Australian motor vehicle design and engineering services.
• This investment plays to Australia’s strengths – product innovation, process efficiency and strong after-sales support services – to differentiate Australia’s manufacturers from its competitors.

Education
• Delivering $2.9 million for the 2367 preschoolers in Murray giving certainty that all children in the year before school will continue to have access to 15 hours of preschool a week (600 hours a year) in 2018.
• The Coalition Government will commit an additional $18.6 billion for Australia’s schools over the next decade, starting from 2018. It will be distributed according to a model of fair, needs-based and transparent funding.
• Delivering real needs-based school funding, tied to school reforms that are proven to improve student results, and which provides long term certainty for parents and schools.
o Having a fairer funding model with real and record funding support means we can focus on how that money is used to support initiatives that boost student outcomes. David Gonski will lead a new inquiry that will look at how our funding should be used to improve student achievement.
• This represents a total increase in funding for the 107 primary and secondary schools in the electorate over the next ten years of $386 million.
• Launching the Skilling Australians Fund, worth $1.54 billion over the next four years. This fund will help train Australian apprentices in key trades and skills. This investment will help 700 young locals aged 15 to 24 years in Murray.

Health
• Medicare funding will increase by $2.4 billion over the next four years, including a $1 billion commitment to our doctors and patients by restoring indexation of the Medicare rebate commencing with GP bulk billing arrangements from 1 July 2017.
• The Coalition Government, in partnership with Medicines Australia will reduce the costs of medicines by $1.8 billion over the next five years. Patients at risk of chronic heart failure will benefit with the listing of new drugs at a cost of more than $510 million.
• Delivering a $115 million boost for mental health support, treatment and research, including $9.1 million for tele-health services for regional areas.
• $5.5 billion extension of the funding arrangement for the Commonwealth Home Support Program over two years from 1 July 2018, which covers services such as meals on wheels.

Pension Card
• The Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) will be reinstated to about 92,300 former pension recipients, including 3,600 Department of Veterans’ Affairs payment recipients.
• These former part-pensioners lost entitlement to the PCC when they were no longer eligible for a pension due to the reforms to the assets test which came into effect on 1 January 2017.
• This change will help these people in accessing discounts and concessions offered by states, territories, private providers and give these people access to Commonwealth hearing services.
• Consistent with the Health Care Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card they currently have, the PCC will be automatically reissued over time with an ongoing income and assets test exemption.
• Other eligibility requirements, such as portability conditions, will still need to be met.
• These people will also retain the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card to ensure they continue to receive Energy Supplement.
• The Card will be provided to those affected after necessary legislation passes both Houses of Parliament.

Social Services
• More affordable and accessible childcare to one million families.
• Comprehensive reform of working-age welfare payments will deliver:
o A single, new JobSeeker Payment replacing seven existing payments, including Newstart;
o More encouragement for people transitioning to work and greater support for people with barriers to employment; and,
o Stricter compliance to ensure people follow the rules attached to their payment.
• The Coalition Government’s disability package includes:
o A Local Care Workforce Package to grow and develop the care workforce needed by NDIS participants and older Australians requiring aged care services.
o A new, independent national body, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, to oversee the delivery of quality and safe services for all participants in the NDIS.
o Reform of Disability Employment Services to help people with disability who can and want to work, achieve that aim; and
o A 0.5 per cent increase in the Medicare Levy from 1 July 2019 to fully fund the NDIS that will directly help around 3,854 people across the electorate once fully rolled out.
• The Government will provide an additional 250 staff to answering phone enquiries about Centrelink payments and services this year.
o These additional people will reduce call waiting times for all Australians. This means that Australians will have better access to Government services.
o The call centre staff will be delivered through one of the existing approved providers of telephone services to the Australian Government.

Aged Care
• $5.5 billion extension of the Commonwealth Home Support Programme over two years from 2018-19 to 2019-20 for service delivery and assessment.
• $3.1 million provided for ICT maintenance to the My Aged Care website, to improve access to information for over 1 million older Australians, their families and their representatives.
• $4.1 million in funding for the continuation of the Supporting Leave for Living Organ Donors Program over four years.

Veterans
• All past and present service personnel who have undertaken at least one-day full time service will benefit from easier access to free mental health support and services. This will provide support for 903 veterans and their families living in Murray.

 

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