10 May 2017

Regional rail investment a centrepiece of 2017 Federal Budget

Last night, the Turnbull Government handed down the 2017-18 Federal Budget – a Budget which is fair and delivers opportunity and security for 24 million Australians.

Our government’s $100m investment in the Geelong rail duplication project, as part of a $500m regional rail fund for Victoria, is wonderful news.

I have spent two years campaigning for this project so this is a huge win for Geelong and Corangamite.  I also championed a regional rail fund for Victoria.  I want to thank everyone who signed our petitions and backed our campaign and vision.

The duplication of the rail track between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds will deliver faster and more reliable train services to and from Warrnambool, Colac, Geelong, through to Melbourne.

The project also involves constructing second platforms at South Geelong, Marshall and Waurn Ponds stations.  The Public Transport Users Association has backed this project as the “urgent priority” for our region.

It is now vital that the Victorian Government release its business plans and works in partnership with the Turnbull Government to deliver this project and other rail upgrades for our region.  In the 2017 Victorian budget, unlike rail projects in Gippsland and Ballarat, Labor did not include a budgeted commitment for any rail project in our region.  Labor needs to fix this, properly commit to these projects and apply for more funding from the Commonwealth’s $1b fund.

Better passenger rail will not only allow more commuters to travel to work efficiently; it will bring more jobs, industries and investment to our region.

We desperately need a modern, fast train to Melbourne and an end to slow, overcrowded services.

The announcement of a $10 billion National Rail Program also presents the Corangamite electorate with some incredible opportunities.

Some of the key Budget 2017 measures include:

A balanced budget by 2020-21

  • Forecast surplus of $7.4 billion by 2020-21.
  • Cracking down on multinationals not paying their fair share of tax by closing loopholes.
  • A fair welfare safety net for those in need and tougher penalties for those dodging responsibility.
  • Budget repair to secure the services on which Australians rely.

Investment in job creating infrastructure projects  

  • $500m regional rail fund for Victoria including $100m for the Geelong rail duplication project, part of an additional $1 billion infrastructure spend.
  • $10 billion National Rail Program.
  • An additional $8.4 billion to build the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, the Commonwealth’s biggest rail project in 100 years

Focusing on jobs and skills training  

  • A $100m advanced manufacturing fund for Victoria and South Australia to create more jobs, grow businesses and improve productivity.
  • A Skilling Australians Fund – a foreign workers levy to fund Australians’ skills training.

Support for small business   

  • Incorporated small businesses with turnover less than $10 million will have their tax rate cut to 27.5 per cent in 2016–17, the lowest level in 50 years.
  • This lower corporate tax rate will extend to other companies with annual turnover less than $50 million by 2018–19.
  • The 2017 Budget extends the $20,000 instant asset write-off for a further 12 months to 30 June 2018.

Housing affordability and cost of living

  • First-home buyers will be able to direct some of their pre-tax income into a savings account to save for a deposit.
  • From 1 July 2018, older Australians downsizing can contribute up to $300,000 from the sale of their home into superannuation as a non-concessional contribution.
  • A ban on foreign investors buying more than half the homes or apartments in any new development.
  • Aged pensioners, disability support pensioners, veterans and those on single parent payments will get a one-off $75 payment to help with this winter’s power bills.
  • A new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to permanently extend funding for homelessness.
  • Tackling rising energy costs by securing local gas access and new storage and supply.

More funding for health, education and NDIS

  • A massive investment of $18.6 billion over 10 years in schools funding, backed by David Gonski.
  • Once in a generation child care reform, particularly for low and middle income families.
  • Full funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme beyond 2019.
  • Restoring indexation of the Medicare rebate, commencing with GP bulk billing arrangements from 1 July 2017.
  • Organ donors will be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses.

Law and order

  • A $321m package for the Australian Federal Police to tackle criminal gangs with new intelligence experts, surveillance teams, forensics specialists and tactical response officers.
  • $26m to boost frontline family law and family violence services.
  • An extra $56m for community legal centres.

Fairer and more accountable banks

  • A Banking Executive Accountability Regime will punish misconduct.
  • Serious sanctions for banking executives who fail standards.
  • A Major Banks Levy for banks with over $100 billion in assessed liabilities

A plan for affordable energy

  • Securing access to our gas resources for domestic use.
  • New power generation, transmission and storage capacity, including Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro.
  • The ACCC will police fair pricing in gas and electricity markets.
  • More than $3 billion to develop new low emissions technologies.

Greater investment for our regions

  • A new $472 million Regional Growth Fund will be created.
  • Under the Regional Growth Fund, $200 million in additional funding will increase the Building Better Regions Fund to almost $500 million for investment in projects across regional Australia.

Defence and veterans affairs

  • $40m for veterans for mental health and suicide prevention.
  • Over $19m to further commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC.

10 May 2017