News

Oakeshott 'looking for more funding for the Pacific Highway'

REGIONAL funding remains secure in the lead-up to next week's Federal Budget, despite fears for the long-term future of regional programs, federal independent Rob Oakeshott said on Tuesday.

Mr Oakeshott's warning comes as the Gillard Government grapples with a $17 billion tax revenue shortfall, major structural problems in the tax system and a likely deficit of at least $7.5 billion.

He said he had been assured funding for the Regional Development Australia Fund and the Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund was secure for the 2013-14 year.

But Mr Oakeshott said he would be looking for certainty that regional funding across all portfolios would be secure over the next four years.

"It'd be welcome, but I don't think we're going to see it," he said.

"So long as we keep the current framework of regional programs in place, then, hopefully, we can see more for regional areas in future budgets."

Mr Oakeshott said he would be looking for more funding for the Pacific Highway, which was suffering from a stalemate over funding between the state and federal government.

"The stalemate on the 50:50 or 80:20 funding share is holding the highway back, and it's a very convenient stalemate for both the state and federal government," he said.

"It has basically let both governments off the hook in terms of actually delivering for the people up and down the New South Wales coast."

Mr Oakeshott said he would also be looking for guaranteed funding for the high-speed rail link between Brisbane and Sydney, which he said was an important alternative to road and air travel.

But he said a key issue he has pushed for throughout the past year - direct funding of local roads for councils - was unlikely to get much support in the budget.

Both major parties last year voted down his proposal for a portion of the GST revenue to fund local roads.

"In my view, there seems to be a culture in both parties of trying to wish it away, but it's still there; it's got to be dealt with," he said.

"Particularly in regional areas, local roads are a major issue for people, and most councils simply don't get enough in rates to do anything but patch holes.

"There seems to be a denial by the government and Opposition of accepting any responsibility on local roads, or to take action, and people are worse off for it."

Mr Oakeshott said overall, a sustainable and sound economic strategy, including widespread tax reform, should be a key part of the budget.

"At a national level, we need to see a sustainable budget position and a sound economic strategy to protect jobs and promote growth," he said.

"While we're not going to see it, what we need is comprehensive tax reform - there is a growing urgency that these issues around who we tax and how we tax need to be dealt with."

Topics:  federal budget, high-speed rail, pacific highway, regional development australia fund, rob oakeshott


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

NSW Regional Arts Fund applications open

LOCAL: Arts Northern Rivers 2016 RAF Project, If These Halls Could Talk, featured Beryl from Roundabout Theatre’s The Cupcakes.

Are you preparing an artistic project for 2017?

Snoop Wogg? We ask leaders the (un)important questions

The pop culture and lifestyle trivia we posed to Australian leaders

Victim tells why paedophiles should not be named

Woman says whole lot of harm can come from shaming campaign

Latest deals and offers

Together we're united for 6.8m regional Australians

AN OPEN letter to Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten demanding a Fair Go for regional Australians.

NSW Regional Arts Fund applications open

LOCAL: Arts Northern Rivers 2016 RAF Project, If These Halls Could Talk, featured Beryl from Roundabout Theatre’s The Cupcakes.

Are you preparing an artistic project for 2017?

Snoop Wogg? We ask leaders the (un)important questions

The pop culture and lifestyle trivia we posed to Australian leaders

Victim tells why paedophiles should not be named

Woman says whole lot of harm can come from shaming campaign

Lismore construction boom triggered by hospital upgrade

See where the cash is being spent on development in the city

$3.7 billion surplus promised in NSW Budget

New South Wales Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian delivers her budget for 2016-17 (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

A $22 billion funding pool has been set aside for health

Chasing Asylum documentary to screen locally

An image from the film Chasing Asylum by Australian director Eva Orner.

The latest film by Academy Award winner Australian Eva Orner

Clive Palmer to re-open refinery

Clive Palmer on ABC radio.

Clive Palmer talks about his achievements, election chances and re-opening the...

Dash Cam of Slip in Snow

Even light snow can be hazardous.

Dash cam shows how easy it is to lose control in even light snow.

Chaos outside Istanbul Airport

Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, 28 June 2016. At least 10 people were killed in two separate explosions that hit Ataturk Airport.

Distress as cars escape Istanbul airport after bombing.

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%

DIY: How to build a backyard fire pit

DIY stars and Weekend magazine columnists Ayden and Jess Hogan.

Would you build this for your backyard?