Friday, 12 May 2023

Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Susan McDonald has lashed the Federal Budget for cutting Northern water projects, lacking clarity in Northern roads funding, and burying spending on flood recovery for Gulf of Carpentaria, Kimberley and NT communities.

“In this Budget, Northern Australia has at best, been insulted, or at worst, forgotten.” she said.

“For example, Labor’s regional spending paper from this Budget runs to just 87 pages – the Coalition’s last regional Budget paper ran to more than 300 pages.

“All this Labor Government has done is steal future jobs, prosperity and hope from Northern Australia by cutting the $5.4 billion Hells Gates Dam, the Urannah Dam and the Hughenden Irrigation Project.

“In this Budget the North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority has been abolished, meaning decisions about water in Northern Australia will now be made in a department building in Canberra 2,000 kilometres away.”

Senator McDonald said victims of a cyclone in the Kimberley and of recent floods around Burketown and Doomadgee in the Gulf had been critical of the amount of assistance the Federal Government had made available, and the speed with which it was being delivered.

“The Budget doesn’t mention recovery money for the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Kimberley and Northern Territory communities that were devastated by the February and March floods. They are, in effect, the forgotten floods.

Senator McDonald said the Burketown and Doomadgee Councils traveled the long route to Canberra to beg for $75 million to ensure that their communities would not be cut off by floodwater again.

This would be modest expenditure for important Far North communities, but they have no certainty from this budget.

“We see Flood Warning Infrastructure funding of $236 million over 10 years – to remediate high priority flood warning infrastructure but this doesn’t help the families and communities that are still living with the impacts of flood water, sewage and vermin splashing through their homes.”

After the Coalition boosted Northern roads funding by more than a billion dollars, Senator McDonald said the lack of detail on Labor’s road spend was concerning.

“Will Northern roads be like Northern dams with individual roads cut in one budget followed by the abolition of whole road programs in the next budget?” she said.

Media Contact
Julian Tomlinson – julian.tomlinson@aph.gov.au – 0421 059 187