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Image contributed – Iluka Meals on Wheels volunteers have appealed to Page MP Kevin Hogan, to reverse a decision to cease the cooking of meals at its Iluka kitchen. The decision means that two permanent part time cooks will be made redundant and volunteers will subsequently deliver frozen meals prepared by a frozen meal wholesaler. File Image

Federal budget one ‘for our community

Geoff Helisma |

Member for Page Kevin Hogan says “our local community was a winner from this year’s budget with money put back into family budgets, the creation of more jobs and a guarantee of the essential services that we depend on as the government continues to heavily invest in regional infrastructure”.

However, Mr Hogan did not to point to anything specifically for the Clarence Valley.

He mirrored Treasurer Scott Morrison’s budget centrepiece, “the tax relief for low to middle income earners”, which Mr Hogan said “will help ease the financial pressures on families [by] putting more than $500 back in their pockets”; albeit in the form of a tax rebate at the end of the 2018/19 financial year.

“With almost 60,000 taxpayers in our community benefiting from this cut, this is great news for families,” he said.

He also focused on the changes to the tax system over the next seven years, which will require legislation to progress.

“Importantly, we are doing this while staying on track to a balanced budget by 2020,” he said.

“This means we won’t be making our children pay off our debt.

“Over the last year we have achieved record jobs growth with 410,000 jobs created – this has meant about 100,000 fewer people are now on welfare,” he said.

However, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics shows an upward trend in the overall percentage of unemployed people.

Meanwhile, the Clarence Valley’s 2017 December quarter unemployment rate was 10.06 per cent, substantially more than the average for regional NSW, 5.29 per cent, all of NSW, 4.8 per cent, and Australia, 5.5 per cent.

Closer to home the “much-needed Coffs Harbour Bypass” made it into his release, “with almost $1billion” allocated for the project.

Beyond focussing on these issues, Mr Hogan pointed to already existing programs, funds from which are mostly sourced via local governments and community organisations making grant applications for specific purposes.

“I am happy to see $345 million for the crucial Bridges Renewal Program and almost $6 million to repair local roads on top of almost $38 million in Financial Assistance to our local councils,” he said.

He referred to the Building Better Regions Fund’s further $200 million for the third round, however, there are no Clarence Valley grant recipients listed on the government’s website to date, last updated on March 27, 2018; and the $22.5 million for the Stronger Communities Program – from which there are numerous examples of Clarence Valley projects.

He also noted “$345million for the Bridges Renewal Program and almost $6million to repair local roads on top of almost $38 million in Financial Assistance Grants to our local councils”.

“As an ageing community, I am particularly pleased that we are helping older members of our community stay in their homes longer, adding more than 14,000 in-home care places to a total of 20,000 new places since the last budget,” he said.