Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said Labor has continued to ignore the Parkes electorate in its budget, cutting regional infrastructure projects and failing to provide new money for regional programs, while refusing to fix its self-made cost-of-living crisis.

“The Prime Minister said when he was elected two years ago, ‘no one would be held back, no one would be left behind’, but that’s only if you live in a capital city and not in regional Australia,” Mr Coulton said in statement last week.

“I’m very proud of the part of Australia that I represent – the Parkes electorate is an extremely productive and innovative economic powerhouse that helps drive this country and we’ve frankly been treated with contempt by this Labor government.

Mr Coulton said last week’s budget was reinforcement of that, with barely a mention of the regions.

“There’s nothing for roads, rail, agriculture or mining. They’re the drivers that generate wealth in our part of the world and they’ve largely been ignored,” Mr Coulton said.

“Labor could find money for 36,000 extra Canberra bureaucrats but couldn’t spend anything to even fill in a few potholes in the Parkes electorate, let alone build new roads for the regions.

“The regional funding programs that were making a real and tangible difference in our communities like the Building Better Regions Fund, Stronger Communities Program and Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program have all been cut and nothing’s been replaced.

“Our local councils have been hung out to dry with no funding for programs that not only invested in building community infrastructure but provided local employment opportunities.

“The only regional funding program the Labor government has introduced was announced three budgets ago and it has now gone to the Australian National Audit Office without a cent being spent.

“Most disappointing for me is that there is zero mention of Inland Rail which does nothing to ease the uncertainty being felt by communities along the route. This could be the last budget before I retire and I was hoping there would be something in there for the construction of the Narromine to Narrabri section. Sadly, the lack of funding commitment further delays this important project.”

Mr Coulton said one of the big concerns in this budget is the focus on green hydrogen.

“Our communities are under enormous threat from the massive explosion of renewables that is going to be required to generate green hydrogen,” Mr Coulton said.

“Green hydrogen needs a lot of water and a huge investment in solar and wind and it’s communities in the Parkes electorate that will likely bear the brunt of this.

“My concern is that down the track, hydrogen producers are going to be competing with farmers for water and thousands of hectares of agricultural land is going to be sacrificed for solar panels and wind farms.

“It’s all well and good to move towards renewables, but it’s those of us in the bush who will pay the price.”

Mr Coulton said Labor is pushing ahead with its biosecurity protection levy which will impact our farmers and families at the checkout, while food costs will continue to climb because of the Government’s refusal to reinstate the AgVisa, instead introducing just $1 million in its budget for a ‘skilled agricultural work liaison pilot’ to attract graduates to work in agriculture.

“Labor is also remaining secretive about water buybacks in its budget which remains a huge concern for our Basin communities,” Mr Coulton said.

“Meanwhile, the phasing out of live sheep exports is a blow to the entire sheep industry. This is not a win for animal welfare, it’s an outcome that is helping people in the inner suburbs feel good about something they have no understanding of and it’s a disaster for the farmers of Australia.

“It’s clear that our farmers are fed up and frustrated by this city-centric government that doesn’t understand agriculture, with the National Farmers’ Federation and other industry representatives walking out during Agriculture Minister Murray Watt’s post-budget speech this morning.”

Mr Coulton said the $300 energy rebate is an admission that Labor’s energy policy has failed and they’re covering over the cracks with taxpayers’ money, to politically defer the impact of higher energy prices until after the election.

“The energy rebate is a drop in the bucket compared to what bills have risen to for households in my electorate,” Mr Coulton said.

“We need to have a budget that provides incentives for individuals to do well, rather than rely on bandaid handouts from the Government to cover rising costs that are a direct result of that same Government’s bad policies.

“This budget does nothing to restore what Labor has cost Australians, and we are all poorer for it.”

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