The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said tomorrow’s federal budget is an opportunity for the Gillard Government to recognise the urgent needs of central Victorians.
“The impact of the Labor government’s policy has been strangling regional Victoria’s local economies, particularly in the areas of water, energy and bio security,” she said.
“The state’s key sectors including food processing, the dairy industry and manufacturing will all take a hit from the world’s biggest carbon tax.
“Manufacturing was Victoria’s lead export sector in 2010-11, with exports totalling $8.3 billion.
“It’s an industry that can’t afford to forfeit its vital role in central Victoria’s economy.
“Meanwhile, the toxic tax is set to cost the average dairy farm between $5,000 and $7,000 each year.”
But it’s not only the carbon tax weighing on the minds of local business, according to Senator McKenzie.
Apple and pear growers in Harcourt, south of Bendigo, are hoping there won’t be any nasty surprises in the budget.
“The Gillard Government must dismiss a taxation push that would cause a radical jump in the price of cider,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Cider is currently taxed at the Wine Equalisation Tax rate, but there are moves to tax cider at the same rate as alcopops, resulting in a 30 per cent increase in the price of traditional cider.
“Harcourt growers have fought the government on a range of policies affecting production, including water use and the importation of New Zealand apples, and cider has been an opportunity to diversify their businesses.
“But such a massive surge in costs would have an immediate impact, with local businesses fearful the tax hike would effectively kill off the area’s cider businesses.”
The Nationals Senator said central Victoria simply can’t afford to bear the brunt of a budget aiming for a superficial surplus.
“Reports the budget will slash billions from defence is alarming, especially when Bendigo employs so many through defence manufacturer Thales,” she said.
“News Bendigo will benefit from Australian Defence Apparel funding was welcome, but as usual the devil is in the detail.
“I hope Steve Gibbons, Bendigo’s federal Labor government representative, has put Bendigo first, because Bendigo deserves better than what this government has dished out so far,” Senator McKenzie concluded.