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Still no vision for our regions, still no response to regional summit.

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Martin Ferguson - Still No Vision For Our Regions, Still No Response To Regional Summit Friday, 25 May 2001

Still No Vision For Our Regions, Still No Response To Regional Summit Martin Ferguson - Shadow Minister for Regional Development

Media Statement - 23 May 2001

The Howard Government's sixth Budget has again failed to provide a strategy to revitalise our regions, Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Martin Ferguson, said today.

"This Budget confirms that the Government still doesn't believe in regional development," Mr Ferguson said.

"Rather than delivering jobs and opportunities through a regional development strategy, John Howard has delivered a pre-election Budget.

"This is the second Budget in a row that has refused to respond to the Regional Australia Summit's recommendation for a regional development strategy," Mr Ferguson said.

Ms Ferguson said the Howard Government has proven itself to be out-of-touch with the concerns of ordinary Australians.

"People have had enough of John Howard, and they will see through his Budget trickery.

"The Howard Government says it is going to spend $190 per year more on helping the unemployed. But that is putting back only a tiny fraction of the $2.1 billion that was slashed in 1996, and funds do not flow for another year.

"It will not address the challenges facing the many regions with double-digit unemployment.

"The Howard Government says it is going to spend an extra $35m per year on telecommunications. That is little comfort when you consider that Telstra's latest profit for just six months was over $500m.

"When the Howard Government privatises Telstra, as the Budget says it will, we lose that profit stream forever.

Mr Ferguson said that while real issues like education, health, and jobs for our regions, have been

ignored, the Howard Government has been obsessed with the GST and privatising Telstra.

"Instead of providing a vision that empowers our regions to take advantage of new opportunities, this Budget is more concerned with cleaning up the wreckage of the GST.

"John Howard told us that the GST would be good for the economy, but the Budget reveals that it has halved growth, and driven investment and jobs in the wrong direction.

"John Howard said that the GST couldn't be simpler and couldn't be fairer. He was then forced to roll back the GST on petrol and beer, and simplify the Business Activity Statement.

"And when pensioners never got their $1000 bonus, and when caravan park and mobile home residents were ripped off, John Howard was caught out again. This Budget does not get him off the hook.

"It is little wonder that people have lost trust in the Howard Government.

"People will not be fooled by the Prime Minister running around marginal seats promising a pre-election bonus - they have heard it all before and will not fall for those tricks again.

"People are crying out for a government that is prepared to work with and for our regions, and only Labor will deliver it," Mr Ferguson said. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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