Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Federal Budget 2023-24 Willcox’s Wishlist Unfulfilled

The Australian Government has handed down a budget that, for the first time in 15 years, is in surplus.

In their second budget, the Labor government announced a $4.2 billion surplus which has largely been credited to corporate tax gained from the resources industry.

The government has called it “a responsible budget in uncertain times”, saying it “continues the Albanese Government’s work to strengthen the nation’s finances while laying the foundations for a stronger, fairer and more resilient economy into the future.”

But Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox is left unsatisfied with the results for his electorate.

“I’m pretty disappointed in the budget as a whole,” Mr Willcox said.

“We’re talking about a surplus of $4.2 billion, well that is largely on the back of an increase in commodity prices.

“We’ve produced a lot of this extra income that’s gone towards the surplus and yet all our infrastructure that’s been in the budget has been scrapped.

“The money’s being generated in rural and regional Australia; we need some infrastructure and support for our people so we can continue to do that.”

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry agreed, saying regional Australia deserves a fair share.

“It is simply not good enough that the hardworking Australians, who live and work in the regions that produce the prosperity we all enjoy, are not receiving their fair share back through investment in local community organisations, infrastructure and roads,” she said.

“It does not create a prosperous, stronger and sustainable Australia.”

Mr Willcox has been advocating for local projects including upgrades to the Bruce Highway, investment into local veterans’ welfare and the Urannah Dam project, all of which have been shunned in the budget.

One thing he is happy to see, though, is the tripling of bulk billing incentives.

“The GP rebate is going to be tripled for certain Australians, the under 16s, the pensioners, the Commonwealth concession card holders,” he said.

“I think health is very important and should be looked after for everybody, but I’m pleased our most vulnerable are being looked after.”

While the budget looks to address the cost-of-living crisis and benefit certain members of the community, including healthcare workers, veterans, low-income renters and welfare recipients, Mr Willcox said it’s not enough.

“Under the Labor Government, what we’ve seen is high inflation, we’ve seen our mortgages go up, we’ve seen fuel go up, we’ve seen grocery prices go up, so there certainly needs to be some measures in place,” he said.

“Cost-of-living pressures have now turned into a cost-of-living crisis, and it’s really starting to bite people.”

Mr Willcox promised to take his time dissecting the budget to identify opportunities for the people of Dawson.

“My role in opposition is to hold the government to account and I’ll work with anybody to make sure the people of my area get the best deal they possibly can,” he said.

“I’m always looking for opportunities to get what we can for my residents and constituents in the area.

“It’s going to take time to pull this to bits, but I’ll do that and while there’s breath in my body, I’ll be punching away every single day.”

What Andrew Willcox Says Dawson Has Missed Out On

• Bruce Highway Upgrades – “There’s no mention of any funding for the Bruce Highway and we’re in much need of funds for that.”

• Second Mackay Ring Road – “The Mackay Ring Road has been delayed to 2025.”

• Mackay RSL – “The $5 million we had in there for veterans’ wellness, which was going to see a new RSL and a veterans’ wellness retreat at Kinchant Dam, has been scrapped.”

• Urannah Dam – “The North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority’s being scrapped, so that was $9.5 million and that was going to oversee projects like Urannah Dam, the Burdekin to Bowen pipeline, the raising of Burdekin Falls Dam. Australia’s a dry continent. We should be building dams, catching water, and using our water for tourism opportunities, for urban use, for mining, for agriculture.”

• Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsundays Upgrades – “All we were asking for there was $420,000, which will upgrade their headquarters and operational centre.”

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