Thursday, May 16, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life


• Federal Government released Tuesday night
   • $9.3M surplus announced, 1st back-to-back in a decade
   • Power Bill Relief – all households receive $300 rebate
   • Cost of Living Relief - Tax Cuts on average $1,888
   • Publicly Funded Paid Parental Leave increases $106 a week
   • Rent Assistance - $250 a Fortnight for welfare recipients
   • Reduced Prescription Costs - no-one pays more than $31.60
   • Student Debt Wiped - $3 million debts removed

Big Budget Spends
While Whitsunday Region Sidelined

Tax cuts set to ease the cost of living, $300 energy bill rebates, rental assistance for welfare recipients and reduced costs of prescription medication – these are just some of the key outcomes of the Federal Budget released by Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Tuesday night.

Despite these national game-changers, Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox, is frustrated that our region has once again missed out allocations that were awarded to other areas.

The biggest point of contention for Mr Willcox is the Bruce Highway, where funds were given for upgrades both north and south of the region and to a new in-land highway, but nothing to fix the issues we currently have on our main road.

“The Bruce Highway is how we get our products to market and how we get our supplies up from the city, it’s a lifeline for us,” expressed Mr Willcox.

“They’ve given money for the Bruce north and south and money for the new inland Bruce, but I want to fix what we’ve currently got.

“Our section of the Bruce is rated the worst in the whole of the Bruce Highway, so I’ve been pushing for some money for that but, once again, we’ve missed out.”

Another budget decision which will directly affect the Whitsunday region is the Environmental Management Charge (EMC) which will see tourism operators having to incorporate this new fee into their prices.

“They’ve increased the EMC so that’s going to make it more difficult for our tourism industry in making our visitors pay more,” he explained.

“The tourism operators are world-class operators, but they have to pass their costs on.”

Despite his disappointment, Mr Willcox says that he will continue to constantly push for projects and funding to explore every avenue he can.

“I’ll be going through the whole of the budget and trying to identify what buckets have the money to then see if I can get some of that for my people. They contribute so much, we deserve to have some of that money coming back,” he stated.

“I’m not putting the white flag up or giving up, I’ll be constantly trying to look for what we can do, putting business cases forward and lobbying for my people to make sure we can get our fair share.

“I’m not being greedy here, but I want something. We’re the biggest sugar growing area in the country and 80% of our sugar is exported, that’s export dollars growing Australia’s economy.

“We’ve got over half a billion dollars of horticultural crop in Bowen, there’s export there too. That’s money for the country, so where is the money generated here coming back to us?

“Even though this has been a slap in the face for us, I won’t be giving up. I’ll be following this through and, every time there’s an opportunity to stand up for the people of Dawson, that’s what I’ll be doing.”’

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