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Business

4 April, 2022

Fuel excise cut in federal budget

A wrap on last week's federal budget and how it will impact the Cape.

By Matt Nicholls

REDUCING the cost of living was the centrepiece of the federal government’s budget last week, with a temporary cut in the fuel excise expected to provide some relief at the bowser.

Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said that while there were not a huge amount of “big ticket items” for the Cape in the budget, there was enough to ensure residents would be better off.

“For the next six months, Far North Queenslanders will save 22 cents a litre every time they fill up their car,” he said.

“A family with two cars who fill up once a week could save around $30 a week or around $700 over the next six months.

“Whether you are dropping the kids at school, driving to and from work or visiting family and friends, it will cost less.”

Mr Entsch said the reduction in excise will flow through to lower petrol prices over the next two weeks, as petrol stations replenish their stocks.

“The competition watchdog will closely monitor retailers to make sure these savings are passed on in full,” he said.

“They will also face multi-million-dollar fines if they are caught ripping off motorists.”

As reported last week, there was money allocated in the budget for the Peninsula Developmental Road.

Almost $70 million has been added to the allocation to help cover rising costs on the PDR.

The budget also contained funds for Cape York councils to manage some of their local infrastructure.

These councils will receive the following payment through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.

Aurukun: $53,749

Cook Shire: $1,278,916

Hope Vale: $63,728

Kowanyama: $157,431

Lockhart River: $80,743

Mapoon: $26,740

Napranum: $81,455

NPARC: $177,442

Pormpuraaw: $246,944

Wujal Wujal: $9956

“This funding injection for our hard-working local councils means even more funding for upgrades to local roads, bike paths, community halls, playgrounds, parks and sports facilities, as well as improved accessibility to public facilities,” Mr Entsch said.

“Providing more time for planning and construction will enable local governments to consider a broader range of priority projects and potentially undertake larger, more complex developments to deliver even great benefits for their communities.”

Heart of Australia will receive $17 million so it can continue to operate mobile health clinics across the state.

Heart of Australia provides outreach services across regional, rural and remote part of the state, including at Cooktown and Weipa.

“I had the opportunity to travel to Cooktown to see first-hand the amazing work Heart of Australia does. I firmly believe it is an essential service,” Mr Entsch said.

“Their specialised B-Double mobile clinics contain a CT scanner and X-ray which brings mobile cardiology and radiology services to people in regional and remote areas.

“This is particularly important for those living in my vast electorate where it isn’t as simple as just hopping into the car and ducking down the road to undertake what could essentially be a life-saving test or scan.

“This is a very positive outcome particularly for residents living in Cape York.”

INSURANCE POOL

LEGISLATION to establish the reinsurance pool for cyclone and related flood damage passed parliament, which should mean savings for Cape York home owners and businesses.

More than 880,000 residential, strata and small business property insurance policies across Northern Australia are expected to be covered for the risk of cyclone and related flood damage through the establishment of the reinsurance pool.

The reinsurance pool will be backed by a $10 billion annually reinstated government guarantee and will be administered by the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation.

The reinsurance pool will come into effect from July 1.

“This has been a very long journey for me personally and I have copped a lot of criticism over the years but at the end of the day I have delivered for Far North Queenslanders,” Mr Entsch said.

“The reinsurance pool will drive down insurance prices, put more money in people’s pocket and give Far North Queenslanders the ability to actually insure their home, unit or business. The reinsurance pool will be mandatory for insurers to participate in, with an 18-month transition period for large insurers and an additional 12 months for small insurers.

“Mandatory participation will ensure the reinsurance pool provides the greatest possible reduction in premiums.”

OPPOSITION RESPONSE

LABOR’S candidate for Leichhardt, Elida Faith, was not impressed with the budget.

“Regional Queensland got left behind; Far North Queensland has the right to feel a bit left out and neglected, and the budget doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” she said.

“If the Morrison government was serious about tackling the cost of living crisis that we have and that a lot of families are experiencing they wouldn’t have spent the best part of a decade attacking workers' wages, security of work, and Medicare.”

Katter’s Australian Party candidate Rod Jensen said the Far North’s needs had been ignored in favour of short-term “sugar hits”.

Mr Jensen said budget measures to address the cost of living, such as cuts to fuel excise and pay-outs for pensioners, were welcome, but have seemingly come at the cost of health funding.

He said the budget papers revealed that health funding was getting slashed over the next three years.

“It seems with health services at breaking point, and the disparity of Indigenous health outcomes, the current government would rather allow health services to fend for themselves than offer up any plan or idea moving forward for the future,” Mr Jensen said.

He said the budget papers revealed the current government would cut $21 million from Queensland public hospitals next financial year, to be followed by cuts of $176 million from Queensland hospitals in 2023-24 and 2024-25, which contradicts funding promised just four months ago.

“Far North Queenslanders already suffer the ‘tyranny of distance’ when it comes to healthcare,” the KAP candidate said.

“Further cuts to Queensland hospitals will mean Far North Queenslanders will have to wait longer for access to healthcare than before.”

Those thoughts were echoed by the Labor state government.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the Prime Minister had made a cold political calculation at the expense of every Queenslander in his desperate bid for re-election.

“This is a budget for the next six weeks, not the next four years,” he said.

“Instead of giving Queensland our fair share, Scott Morrison has clearly decided that he needs votes more in other states.

“He’s spending big in those states, and in doing so showing his scorn for Queenslanders.

“It’s a deliberate pattern that you can see right across the budget.

“All Queensland asks from Scott Morrison is a fair partnership to meet the health needs of our growing population.

“Instead, the budget papers reveal Scott Morrison will cut $21 million from Queensland public hospitals next financial year.

“Queensland hospitals losing federal funding will mean Queenslanders will have to wait longer for the health treatment they deserve.”


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