By Colin MacGillivray
MEMBER for McEwen Rob Mitchell has labelled the Federal Government’s 2022-23 budget an ‘eight week budget’, claiming it will not deliver any long-term benefits to the electorate.
Mr Mitchell described the budget as a cynical attempt by the government to win re-election through short-term measures.
He said budget proposals such as a six-month halving of Australia’s fuel excise – expected to save motorists about 20 cents per litre on petrol – would be of little benefit once it expired.
“It gets us through an election, and then come September when the Reserve Bank of Australia is already tipping we’ll be facing [higher] interest rates, we’re going to have no wage growth and the fuel excise back on,” he said.
“It was pretty clear that this is a budget to get them through an election, not a plan for the future.”
Mr Mitchell said other short-term measures such as a one-off $420 payment to low and middle-income earners would mean little without rising wages to back them up.
According to the ABC, the budget forecasted that wages would barely outpace inflation during the next two years, doing little to alleviate cost-of-living pressures.
Mr Mitchell said the Federal Government had all but ignored regional Victoria in its budget.
“In the budget there was $7 billion in a regional investment fund, and not one cent into Victoria,” he said.
“If you look at where all the money is, it’s in north Queensland or WA where their big donors are, or in the Hunter Valley where they’re trying to win seats.”
Other measures in last Tuesday’s budget included an expansion of the government’s Home Guarantee Scheme, which allows first-time home-buyers to purchase a property with only a five per cent deposit.
There will also be a one-off $250 cost-of-living payment to pensioners, veterans and welfare recipients, and changes to paid parental leave allowing partners to split 20 weeks of leave as they see fit.
Mr Mitchell said without wage growth the government’s schemes meant little.
“To be able to help people buy their first home you’ve got to be able to deliver things like cheaper childcare, cheaper power and wage rises,” he said.
“Last year there was a 25 per cent increase in home prices in regional Australia. It’s difficult to keep up with that when wages aren’t growing at all.”
Mr Mitchell said the government had also done little to shore up the aged care system – a key focus of Labor’s budget response, with a $2.5 billion package set to boost aged-care worker pay.
“The things we want to see done – cheaper housing, clean energy, affordable childcare, fixing the aged care crisis – these are all things that matter to our communities and that’s what we’ve been pushing,” he said.
“The royal commission was about neglect in aged care, and the government did nothing about aged care.
“Supporting pay increases and making sure there are nursing staff in aged care facilities means we know our family members who are in there are getting treated with dignity, care and respect.”
Mr Mitchell said a mooted extra lane for the Hume Freeway had also failed to materialise.
“The extra lane promised for the Hume Freeway is now dead. It’s not there. It was never going to happen,” he said.
“I think the fact that the budget has gone down like a lead balloon shows that people realise it’s an eight-week budget, not a plan for a better future.
“We’re seeing a government trying to buy its way through an election.”