What is good and bad in the 2017 budget for the Riverina

The 2017 Federal budget will fully fund the NDIS, put a great big tax on banks and has housing affordability measures. Education is the big winner with the return of Gonski needs-based funding and the ghosts of the 2014 budget and all of its “zombie” measure are now well and truly gone. Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has produced a budget that leans to the left and might well upset right wing warriors like former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Here is a snapshot of what is good and bad about the budget.

Rural

There is $200 million for the Building Better Regions Program.

Riverina MP Michael McCormack said local governments will be able to build or upgrade local amenities and infrastructure through this program.

There will be no new money for mobile phone blackspots. 

Small Business

Owners of small businesses that turn over less than $10 million a year will be able to write off expenditure of up to $20,000. That will revert back to $1,000 from July 1, 2018.

This measure is popular with small business according to Mr McCormack but some aren’t convinced (page 3).

Any business that has an employee on a temporary work visa will pay up to $1,800 each year, a one-off levy will be charged to businesses that have workers on a permanent skilled visa.

Education

The student relocation scholarships program will have $2 million cut from it. This will affect students from rural areas.

Mr McCormack said that will be offset by a reduction in the time frame for students to become eligible for the youth allowance. 

There will be an extra $2.2b over four years for schools and a reintroduction of the Gonski needs-based funding formula.

The HECS debt threshold will be lowered to $42,000. University students face a 7.5 percent tuition hike and Universities will be hit with a 2.5 percent - or $2.9bn - efficiency dividend over two years

A welcome injection of cash for schools, but university students are worse off with higher fees and faster payments

Welfare

The government will get tough on welfare recipients who use illicit substances.

If you fail random drug tests you will receive a financial penalty.

For those whose substance abuse is the sole cause of their disability, the government will deny disability payments.

Unemployed people who don’t turn up to jobseeker appointments will be penalised

NDIS

Nearly all Australians will be paying more tax, but most of us won’t mind because the increase in the Medicare levy from 2 to 2.5 percent of taxable income will go towards funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

If it's passed by Parliament, which is likely as the NDIS is a Labor legacy program, the change will kick in on July 1, 2019.

Infrastructure

The Melbourne-Brisbane inland rail link gets $8.4b with construction to begin this financial year.

Mr McCormack said the inland rail will go right through the Riverina and the Central West. 

“It will go through Parkes, Wagga Wagga and on to Melbourne and it will allow Riverina producers to get their fresh lean, green farm gate produce from their farm gate to Asian plate,” he said.

“There will be shovels on the ground later in the year this is real, it is happening and it is no longer on the never-never, it is definitely going to happen.”

BUDGET DAY: Member for Riverina Michael McCormack with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on budget day.

BUDGET DAY: Member for Riverina Michael McCormack with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on budget day.

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