Budget brushes big ticket projects

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto has welcomed the spend on smaller projects in the electorate but says more could be done.

BIG ticket projects that would transform Hinchinbrook’s economy have been sidestepped by Labor in this year’s State Budget, despite a number of smaller funding victories.

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said while he was appreciative of the State Government’s spend on education, infrastructure and health initiatives, the fight for projects that transform the region was still “far from over”.

“It’s obvious Labor are running a little scared here with a renewed focus on funding for regional Queensland. Hinchinbrook has certainly benefitted from that in the core areas but visionary projects like the North Queensland Bio Energy plant and dredging One Mile Creek have once again been neglected,” he said.

“However I’m glad to see $2.33 million go towards five general learning spaces and three specialist learning spaces at Northern Beaches State High School and $7 million towards completing construction of the new North Shore State School. That’s an investment in the future.

“We’ve got some $71,000 for the fight against noxious weed Navua sedge and $137,000 for the Halifax Flood Mitigation Levee for recovery from Cyclone Debbie. These are important programs in their own right for producers.

“Infrastructure wise, there’s $1 million from the Building our Regions program towards building new bores and water delivery infrastructure to increase the current capacity of the Ingham Deport Water Treatment Plant and a solid investment in roads across Hinchinbrook. That includes $1.1 million to continue pavement widening on the Bruce Highway between Deep Creek and Bluewater Creek and $600,000 to continue intersection upgrades along the Bruce Highway at Bluewater Station Road and the intersection of Forestry Road and Toolakea Beach Road.”

Mr Dametto said small businesses in Hinchinbrook would also benefit from the budget’s $885 million payroll tax initiatives, which will increase the exemption threshold from $1.1 million to $1.3 million and a one per cent regional payroll tax discount from July 1 for employers with 85 per cent of their employees outside of South East Queensland.

“Small businesses remain the backbone of our regional towns so I welcome this move,” he said.

“But while the government gives with one hand, it’s taking with the other by upping vehicle rego by 2.25 per cent. It’s just another burden on the cost of living for North Queenslanders,”

Mr Dametto said there was a lack of spend in the northern areas of his electorate such as Cardwell and Lower Tully.

“Voters in our electorate will no doubt welcome all of the funding announcements, but it seems Townsville is still getting the biggest slice of funding in our region, with a $101 million in 2019-20 for channel widening and $55 million towards addressing the city’s long term water security needs,” he said.

“The government would do well to throw some of that funding our way for a dam on the Herbert River that would help provide long-term water security for North Queensland. The vision is there, it just needs a government brave enough to take it on.

“A strong North Queensland needs to be underpinned by a network of well-resourced towns and I will continue my fight for Hinchinbrook’s fair share.”

Nick Dametto MP