With few – if any – big ticket items for the Hunter announced in last night’s federal budget, the question people must now ask is ‘what does the fineprint contain?’
The Hunter, quite rightfully, has been under the
spotlight for some time; and there is no question that the
mineral-rich region has contributed much to the nation’s ability to ride out the global financial downturn.
But the answer to how much benefit the Hunter will now reap from that contribution depends on what side of the political fence people sit on.
Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon says mining tax profits will come back in the form of future infrastructure projects.
That may be so, but for the time being those infrastructure projects remain unspecified.
For some people, however, the budget will mean a real difference; the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, for example, has has been likened to the introduction of Medicare.
Low to middle income families have also welcomed the modest tax cuts for those earning up to $80,000 a year.
Money for the Pacific Highway, aged care and dental services are simply long overdue.
Predictably, Paterson MP Bob Baldwin claims the government has failed to deliver any real benefits to the people of the Hunter.
He believes that given its major contribution to the national economy, the Hunter has not received its fair share of the rewards.
Much will be made of the fact that the Gillard government has turned a $44 billion deficit into a $1.5 billion surplus and it, without doubt, is a significant achievement.
But as is often the case, the devil may well be in the detail.