Member for Indi Cathy McGowan is urging the government to understand the impact of the 2018-19 budget on those living in the electorate.
In a recent speech to parliament, Ms McGowan said almost 1000 people responded to the invitation to tell the government what they thought.
The leading priorities were taxation, education and training, health and aged care, renewable energy and climate change and social security services.
‘‘There are a lot of good things in the budget, but they are not good enough,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘I am encouraging the government to do much better to understand the impact upon those living in Indi.
‘‘Thank you to everyone who filled in the survey.
‘‘This was a terrific response and I was proud to report to the Parliament what people have said.
‘‘This is the power of having a local independent representative who can engage with the community to give people a voice and take their message fearlessly to the government.
‘‘Most encouragingly, 19 per cent of surveys were completed by those under 25,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘In Mansfield, Wangaratta, Wodonga and Benalla more than 100 young people met with me before they headed to school, university, TAFE and to work.
‘‘Young people in particular spoke of a lack of access for people wanting to pursue further training or tertiary education in regional Australia.
‘‘For those who want to travel for university, there continue to be barriers.
‘‘Overwhelmingly, people were concerned that the tax measures proposed by the government were unfair and would lead to increasing inequality.
‘‘These concerns reflect the income and company turnover rates in Indi, where 71.3 per cent of residents earn less than $52000 and only 0.2 per cent or six companies have a turnover of more than $50 million.’’
Ms McGowan said one-fifth of respondents to the survey listed health and aged care as their most or second-most important issue.
Their concerns centred on a lack of access and funding, specifically for aged and mental health care.
‘‘The pension, an increase in the Newstart allowance and access to the youth allowance for students moving to the city remain core concerns in my electorate,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘The overarching concern that the budget will lead to increased inequality and higher reliance on social security services is driven in part by personal circumstance.
‘‘In Indi, 92 per cent of residents earn less than $91000.
‘‘The household income is $1126, approximately 22 per cent lower than the national average; and the rate of part-time workers is 33.6 per cent, higher than the national average of 30.4 per cent.’’
Ms McGowan said the impact of a government’s health, taxation and education policy often had a disproportionate impact on regional Australia.
‘‘Strong and resilient communities exist because of community leadership, collaboration and a real and genuine commitment to making things better,’’ she said.
‘‘The publication of the Indi budget report will present the findings of the surveys and seek report of what I have heard, but also encourage communities to stand up and find local solutions.’’