Senator Barnaby Joyce, the Opposition spokesman for Regional Development, Local Government and Water clears up some points.
I have an apology to make.
I did not give a full and thorough explanation of the concerns that we have with the current freeze/stocktake that Labor is using to find money for their surplus after they have blown it on mortgaging our nation to a whole range of loopy ideas and blue sky promises.
I stated that we only had to be concerned about the Regional Development Australia Fund. The package that apparently was fundamental to the reason that the independents supported the government. But apparently the freeze can be on anything, including funds required to complete the Murray-Darling Basin plan, and, when you listen to Senator Conroy’s explanation of a stocktake in the Senate recently, it covers from aged-care to Norfolk Island.
The minister must realise that the one thing that regional Australia does not appreciate is being jerked around by obfuscation and, in some instances, deliberate avoidance of the transparent truth.
Minister Crean must be fair dinkum, call another press conference, and this time give the complete answer and explanation. What programs that were going to be funded in the current period are either going to be delayed or moved to a period for which this government cannot truly claim responsibility for their oversight?
An aspiration years down the track is not the same as a promise for the current period.
Reports in The Australian confirm that the government has frozen $2 billion worth of grants.
Minister Crean has responded by saying that it is not a “freeze” but a “stocktake”.
What exactly is a stocktake?
It’s not as if he is running the corner store. It sounds like a stocktake is code for delay, perhaps a delay past the next election.
Well, if the Labor party is now stepping away from their promise, then maybe Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor should consider stepping away from theirs? Maybe they could take a stocktake on their support.
Tanya Plibersek has said that they will just find the money for her dental scheme from somewhere. Well they’ve found it. “Somewhere” must be a town in regional Australia.
Changing the name on the presents under the fully mortgaged Christmas tree can make some of the children bitterly disappointed.
The freeze comes after the government has already slashed $400 million from the RDA fund over the past two years. It slashed $350 million to fund flood recovery in Queensland and slashed a further $50 million to fund projects in Rob Oakeshott’s seat of Lyne.
Regional Australia can’t trust a government that can’t manage a budget.