Tough measures for tough times

NEW England MP Barnaby Joyce has scotched claims his electorate was effectively snubbed in this week’s federal budget.

FISCAL FREEZE: New England MP Barnaby Joyce has denied claims Tuesday night's "austerity budget" was a tough budget for his electorate. He is pictured during Question Time late last year.

FISCAL FREEZE: New England MP Barnaby Joyce has denied claims Tuesday night's "austerity budget" was a tough budget for his electorate. He is pictured during Question Time late last year.

Mr Joyce yesterday trumpeted the close to $90 million for local projects in the budget, despite accusations much of the funding had been previously announced.

“To say it had already been announced (by the former member) is like saying you can buy presents on a credit card with no money on it,” Mr Joyce said.

Among the big ticket items announced in the budget for the region were $80 million for the Bolivia Hill re-alignment, $3.3 million for the Tenterfield heavy vehicle bypass, $3.5 million for the Armidale Airport upgrade and $500,000 for CCTV cameras in Tamworth’s CBD.

Mr Joyce said it was regrettable other projects, such as New England Volunteer Air Transport (NEVAT), had missed out on funding.

“I acknowledge there is concern around some projects, like NEVAT,” Mr Joyce said.

“But the money (for NEVAT) was a one-off consideration. There was no belief it would be ongoing.

“I’ve had no representations in my office and in any case the Royal Flying Doctor Service performs a similar function.

“If the budget situation was different, I could have fought very hard for some of this one-off funding.

“But there has to be a clear understanding, if we don’t turn the nation around, we just delay a much worse outcome.”

Mr Joyce also claimed the $300 million earmarked for the inland railway would deliver flow-on benefits for the region, giving producers easier access to markets.

But secretary of the Tamworth Country Labor branch Garry Ryan said it was a miserly budget for regional areas.

“It’s a very harsh budget and they’ve tried to frighten the daylights out of people and claim the deficit is unmanageable,” Mr Ryan said.

“The bulk of the spend is going to capital cities and I don’t believe country areas have benefited at all.

“It seems like we’re going back to the cruel old days of John Howard with the government’s attitude to human beings generally, especially the needy.

“It’s certainly not a budget for the people.”

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