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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the 2019-20 Budget is good for Gippsland and good for Australia.

Mr Chester said he was pleased with the focus on building the infrastructure regional communities need, and helping to reduce the cost of living for low and middle income earners.

“This budget is our plan to build on the record infrastructure investment we’ve already seen in Gippsland over the past five years and help families to pay their household bills,” Mr Chester said.

“The highlights include income tax relief for the majority of wage earners, increased funding for local roads and major highways and a commitment to reduce youth suicide and improve mental health throughout the community.

“The Government has been able to deliver record funding for health, education and aged care services without increasing taxes and we are now paying back the debt accumulated under the former Rudd-Gillard Government.”

Mr Chester said specific Gippsland measures in the Budget include a new headspace site to be established in Sale, $8 million for planning a fast rail link to Traralgon and a $1 billion fund for Princes Highway upgrades in partnership with state governments.

“In 2020 it will be 100 years since the Princes Highway opened and we will partner with all state governments along the route to improve safety and boost the visitor economy,” Mr Chester said.

“I’ve already delivered funding for the duplication between Traralgon and Sale and this program will spread the benefits throughout the region.

“Youth mental health is a big focus of this Budget with $461 million going towards Australia’s most significant youth mental health and suicide prevention strategy.

“The new headspace satellite centre in Sale has been requested by the community and it will build on the funding already provided for mental health programs in drought affected communities.”

Mr Chester said the Budget commitment to increase support for communities impacted by natural disasters including drought would be welcomed across regional Australia.

“Many of our farming families are doing it tough in Gippsland at the moment and any additional support would be welcomed,” Mr Chester said.

Budget highlights for Gippslanders include:

  • Income tax relief for the majority of wage earners
  • A one-off Energy Assistance Payment worth $75 for singles and $125 for couples
  • $6.3 billion in national drought support
  • New investments in local infrastructure to grow our economy and create more opportunity
  • Safer local roads through $2.2 billion Road Safety Package, targeting black spots and Gippsland council road improvements
  • Better connected communities through an additional $160 million investment in the Mobile Black Spot Program
  • Listing of critical medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme such as breast cancer and rare skin cancer fighting drugs
  • Support for older Australians, with 20,000 new home care packages and a reduction in red tape
  • $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package, $2 billion of which will go to practical emission reduction activities
  • $450,000 community small grants program for Gippsland projects.

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