Budget: ‘Not a lot’

Patrick Gorman

“THERE’S not a lot for us in it,” was Perth federal Labor MP Patrick Gorman’s review of the latest Morrison budget.

Mr Gorman said there was a notable lack of spending on social housing and no funding to get quarantine out of CBD hotels.

“In terms of infrastructure, there’s ongoing funding for things that are already happening but there’s nothing new in the Perth electorate,” Mr Gorman says.

“The obvious thing that was missed in this budget is getting quarantine out of the CBD. 

“If you look at what’s happening in South Australia at the moment, at what Perth’s been through twice this year, we can’t have all our quarantine in the CBD.

He says every time there’s an outbreak, it’s CBD businesses that suffer from lockdown.

“It’s unfair that the Perth CBD bears the brunt of the quarantine in WA,” Mr Gorman said.

Given the delayed vaccine rollout and uncertainty over how long Covid might linger, Mr Gorman wants funding for custom-built facilities outside of the city to also bring home more Australians who are on long waiting lists due to restrictions on repatriation numbers.

“Until we can get our neighbours home you can’t go out and declare mission accomplished.”

He says social housing also deserved more funding: “There’s been a lot of investment in the homebuilder program, but there’s nothing new in terms of social housing.” 

The homebuilder program grants up to $25,000 for new houses or renovations, but the minimum spend is $150,000 to be eligible. The budget extended the program for another 12 months for existing applicants. 

Federal spending on housing’s been recommended by Treasury during previous tough times like the Global Financial Crisis, and Mr Gorman says it gives a short term boost of jobs and longer term boost from having people in secure housing.

He points out the Stirling Towers site, a delayed state government project, as a prime spot that could use federal funding.

“[Sites] like Stirling Towers, big development sites could be turned into homes for hundreds of essential workers and low income families.”

A lot of money’s instead been kept in stasis for the Roe 8 and 9 project, with $1.2 billion of federal money ready but the controversial road works standing no chance of going ahead under a Labor state government. 

The budget also had funding for 40 new Headspace youth mental health centres and Head-to-Head centres for older adults, but the locations are unknown.

Mr Gorman says he’ll continue advocating for a Headspace in the city.

“We know the demand’s there, we know it’s ridiculous for people to have to trek out to Midland to get services from Headspace. It’s an essential thing.

“We know that the biggest cause of death for young people… is suicide. So anything we can do to make sure that we literally save the lives of young Australians is so important. It’s about putting those services near where people already congregate. If you’re already facing mental health challenges, we should make it as easy 

as possible to access those services.”

WA federal Liberal MPs have talked up the budget:

• Stirling’s Vince Connelly praised the tax cuts for low-and-middle income earners;

• Tangney’s Ben Morton supported the Roe 8 and 9 cash staying in the budget, imploring the McGowan state government to leave it an open option;

• Hasluck’s Ken Wyatt praised the investment into “helping Indigenous Australians into quality and long-lasting jobs, strengthening Indigenous businesses and community organisations, and backing its commitment to transform the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

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