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No funding for new Gippsland infrastructure projects from Labour federal government budget despite economic contributions

Gippsland and regional Australia generate wealth but received no new infrastructure projects or funding from the Federal Budget. Labor's centralisation of power and lack of trust in local decision-making undermines rural communities.

By news@gippsland - 11th May 2023 - Back to News

Gippsland and regional Australia underpin the wealth of the nation through energy generation, exporting commodities, and growing the food and fibre we need. In return, we expect the federal government to return a fair share of revenue to our community for critical services and infrastructure investment. This week's Federal Budget failed Gippslanders with no new infrastructure projects and a return to centralised decision making for local projects.

Labor's lack of understanding and trust undermines programs giving small communities decision-making power

Labor's lack of understanding and trust undermines programs giving small communities decision-making power

Devastating impact

Gippslanders received a very clear message from the budge. Labor doesn't understand rural and regional Australia; Labor doesn't respect the contribution we make to the nation; and Prime Minister Albanese doesn't trust us to make good decisions for our own communities. I'm a huge believer in localism where local communities have a say in the big decisions which affect them. There were at least three specific examples in the Federal Budget where localism is dead and Labor's passion to centralise power into Canberra became even stronger.

Firstly, the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LRCIP) has received no additional funding and has effectively been abolished robbing Gippsland councils of an important source of funding. Under LRCIP, the previous federal government gave power to local councils to make decisions and build community infrastructure across Gippsland which they would never be able to afford from their rate base.

Urban councils will hardly notice the difference because they have other sources of income but this will be devastating for Gippsland councils which depend heavily on the federal government for funding local projects. Another example of the Albanese government abandoning localism is the decision to cease funding for the Stronger Communities Program.

Successful local empowerment

Under this highly successful program, every electorate received $150,000 which was made available for volunteer organisations to seek matching grants for small-scale projects. Volunteers who raised money through raffles, sausage sizzles and community events could receive a bit of extra help to get a project completed quicker than was possible if they were forced to raise all the money.

It was a good example of locals deciding local priorities and leveraging off a little bit of taxpayers' money to deliver important projects but Labor always wants to centralise power. The evidence is clear with the announcement that Labor will hire 10,000 additional bureaucrats in Canberra including a decision to move disaster support officers into capital cities, rather than leaving them in regional locations.

It's alarming that Labor doesn't understand how small communities work and doesn't trust them to make good decisions so they abolish the programs which give us power to make our own decisions. Just as concerning is the fact that there's no additional road projects or infrastructure funding for Gippsland in this budget.

Uncertain future in stalled projects

Every project involving federal funding that is currently underway in Gippsland was started by the previous federal government and the Albanese government has not started a single new project in 12 months. It concerns me that we won't have a pipeline of new work when major transport projects are completed and all the Minister for Infrastructure has announced is a review.

The announcement of a 90-day review into the federal government's infrastructure program is an ominous sign for Gippslanders with previous commitments to road projects likely to be at risk. I've demanded that Gippsland road safety, transport infrastructure, local governments and bushfire recovery projects are quarantined from the Labor Party's budget cuts but the Minister is saying if the work hasn't started, it's under review.

Neglected economy risk

So, in essence, we have a community which is at risk of being punished by the Federal Labor government because the State Labor government has failed to do its job and spend the funding provided for our local projects.

More broadly, the budget leaves middle-class Australians paying more for their mortgages and energy bills and completely ignores the needs of small and family-owned businesses. The federal government has locked in long-term spending commitments on welfare payments but it hasn't explained how future governments will pay the bill if government revenue drops due to lower commodity prices.

As a local MP, I will always work with community groups and councils to try to secure funding from various competitive grants programs but it will be challenging to get a fair go from a government which has so clearly prioritised cities and suburbs over rural and regional communities.

Pictures from Darren Chester Facebook page.


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