A tale of two electorates

Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell has described last week’s Federal Budget as leaving large sections of his constituents out ‘in the cold’, while neighbouring Member for Nicholls Damian Drum celebrated a $320 million infrastructure investment.

The 2020-21 Federal Budget included tax cuts for more than 11 million Australians backdated to July 1 along with one-off offsets for low and middle-income earners, and a JobMaker Hiring Credit wage subsidy paying businesses $200 a week for workers aged under 30 and $100 for workers aged under 35.

A $320 million commitment to stage three of the Shepparton Rail Line upgrade is Victoria’s largest infrastructure project to feature in the budget, as part of the Federal Government’s 10-year, $110 billion infrastructure pipeline.

Mr Drum said government estimates projected the rail line upgrade to create 990 jobs, improve passenger and freight rail services and improve connectivity between people and jobs, as well as goods and markets.

“Funding the third stage of the Shepparton rail line upgrade will ensure people in our community get home sooner and safer, while also delivering more jobs locally,” he said.

“In addition to this $320 million investment, the Federal Government is investing $7.5 million for the delivery of a business case for improved rail services from northern Victoria into Melbourne’s CBD.”

However Mr Mitchell said it was ‘beyond disappointing’ the government had allocated 15 per cent of transport infrastructure funding to Victoria, which has 26 per cent of the country’s population, compared to New South Wales getting 36 per cent of transport infrastructure funding.

The Labor member also said people aged over 35, women, seniors, the childcare sector, construction and retail works had been ignored.

“This is an appalling Christmas present for all of those people predicted to lose their jobs between now and the end of the year,” he said.

“Then you will have to compete with younger people who are being subsidised by the government, competing for the few jobs available.”

However Mr Drum said businesses would also benefit from tax relief measures while the construction industry would also be assisted.

“Tax relief includes allowing 99 per cent of businesses to deduct the full cost of depreciable assets in the year they are installed, and allowing companies with a turnover of up to $5 billion to offset losses against previous profits on which tax has been paid to generate a refund,” he said.

“We are also further assisting first home buyers and the construction sector by extending the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to another 10,000 places and providing an additional $1 billion of low-cost finance to support the construction of affordable housing.”

Mr Mitchell said one of the two biggest industries in McEwen was construction and it was disappointing to see the government ignore housing.

“Every housing organisation in the country and many economists have called for more government investment in social housing in the budget and they called for it because building houses keeps their members in work. But they got zero,” he said.

“The housing industry is going off a cliff. All the forecasts show that the number of homes going to be built this year will be tens of thousands less than it was last year and that means lots of tradies will lose their jobs.”