Budget bails on city

IF YOU expected some financial relief through the 2011-12 State Budget, whether it be directly in the hip pocket, or through funds for more services and infrastructure in the region, think again.

At first glance, the budget seems to spend little on vital community services and infrastructure the Gladstone region has been crying about for the past two years.

Member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham has described the State Government's job on the budget as abysmal.

“The government did an abysmal job of the budget because we have 1500 people coming and they haven't budgeted for them,” she said.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser said the government's decision at the last election to fund an infrastructure program to support jobs had delivered a boost to the economy and a stronger balance sheet.

“This year, Queensland's debt is more than $17 billion less than it was forecast to be two years ago.”

Mrs Cunningham said the budget was an affront to all residents in the Gladstone region.

“On the basis of the information available as the budget was delivered, there is little to address the critical pressure points in the electorate,” she said.

Mrs Cunningham said she acknowledge funds for police and ambulance station upgrades, but there was nothing of significance in the budget for the two highest priorities – health and affordable housing.

In the budget, there is funding for new ambulance stations at Gladstone and Calliope, along with the expected funds for the Calliope Police Station upgrade, which will provide more room for more staff in the region.

There is also $5.5 million allocated for kindergartens in the Fitzroy region, with two of the five nominated in the Gladstone region – at Tannum Sands and Kin Kora.

The Gladstone Ports Corporation has been the major benefactor of the budget, with $65.5 million allocated towards the $121.8 million works at the RG Tanna Coal Terminal.

Other funding allocations for the Fitzroy region, specifically linked to Gladstone, include $6.4 million for corridor planning and land acquisitions for the liquefied natural gas corridor from Callide to Curtis Island and $48 million to reconstruct sections of the Bruce Highway between Gin Gin and Benaraby, following the summer disasters.

What will benefit Gladstone region residents' hip pockets is the “cost of living relief” packages.

The government will abolish the $113 ambulance levy on all power bills, ensuring all Queenslanders have free ambulance cover.

Pensioners will get increased electricity rebates in line with the price rise coming into effect, and they will get an extra $20 a year in their council rates rebates.

The State Government will abolish the stamp duty discount currently applied to home buyers, but the zero stamp duty will remain for first-time homeowners purchasing homes under $500,000.

There will also be a program offering $10,000 grants to anyone buying a new home for less than $600,000 from August 1 to January 31.

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