Infrastructure and jobs focus welcomed


Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey has welcomed Federal Budget measures that invest in infrastructure, employment and education.

The Budget provides $71 million from 2019-20 towards the Hinkler Regional Deal to support projects that boost economic and social development in the Bundaberg Region.

It’s part of a $172.9 federal package that includes road and port upgrades.

“This is a significant contribution from the Commonwealth which will stimulate construction activity and encourage private-sector investment,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“We look forward to working with the Federal and State Governments after the election to discuss other projects that could form part of the Hinkler Regional Deal.”

Mayor Dempsey thanked Hinkler MP Keith Pitt for his advocacy.

“It’s also pleasing the Opposition Leader, Mr Shorten, and Labor’s candidate for Hinkler, Richard Pascoe, have said they will honour Budget commitments made to the region,” he said.

Mayor Dempsey said it was exciting to see $67.5 million allocated over five years to trial 10 national training hubs supporting school-based vocational education in regions with high youth unemployment.

“The Wide Bay Burnett Region has had Australia’s highest youth unemployment rate for many years and we’re definitely hoping to be part of this program,” he said.

Other Budget measures include:

  • Establishing a $3.9 billion Emergency Response Fund to increase the level of Commonwealth assistance after natural disasters;
  • Continuation of the Building Better Regions Fund to support community infrastructure;
  • Ongoing money for the Mobile Black Spot Program;
  • Upgrades for Bargara Road and the Buxton intersection;
  • Encouraging migrants to settle in regional areas;
  • Reforms to Harvest Labour Services that will encourage more Australian jobseekers to take up seasonal harvest jobs.

Financial Assistance Grants stalled

Mayor Dempsey said it’s disappointing that both sides of politics rejected calls by the Australian Local Government Association to increase Financial Assistance Grants to Councils.

“The grants have shrunk over the years as a percentage of national tax revenue,” he said.

“This reduces the capacity of local government to make untied decisions about where to direct diminishing funds for community projects and local roads.”