House debates

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Statements by Members


1:42 pm

Photo of Helen HainesHelen Haines (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

For the last two days the government has told us the budget is perfect. The opposition will rail against it. As an Independent I have the freedom to say how it actually is. For Indi and for regional Australia the budget is underwhelming because it looks backwards not forwards. This budget tries to take us back to where we were before the pandemic, instead of making transformational investments to build up our regions and grasp the opportunities before us to take us to a new future.

Certainly Indi has had some wins: $3 million for the Mount Buffalo Chalet, which I was pleased to brief the Treasurer about some months ago, and additional funding for local bridges and roads. Importantly, for the people of Indi, especially those who faced bushfires, pandemic and border closure, they will benefit from 10 additional psychological therapy sessions on mental health plans. But in many ways, the government has missed opportunities. There is no new funding for bushfire recovery, no new funding for locally owned renewables, no meaningful regional jobs program and no clear strategic vision for regional Australia. The government missed this chance to make some great civic investments in our region. These opportunities remain. I'll be working hard to get the government to seize these opportunities and have greater ambition, planned strategic ambition—a real vision for regional Australia.