Roads, health & environment budget priorities for Mayo

Roads, health & environment budget priorities for Mayo

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is heading to Canberra today for Budget Week with a list of funding priorities for the electorate of Mayo.

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is heading to Canberra today for Budget Week with a list of funding priorities for the electorate of Mayo.

“Coming off the back of hosting 21 Community Forums across the electorate, I know that there are a number of issues locally and nationally that our community believe needs to be addressed as a priority, including the state of our roads, better access to health services and post-secondary training, action on environmental issues and improved telecommunications.

“This feedback has reinforced my determination to advocate for national policies such as a $1000 dental voucher for pensioners and the continuation of the Mobile Black Spot Program while also fighting for stronger protections for the Murray, the return of Supplementary Road Funding for South Australia and investment in our TAFE facilities.

“We have many of South Australia’s fastest growing communities; including Mount Barker, Aldinga and the South Coast.

“We are also the oldest electorate in South Australia with a median age of 46 years, which increases to 58 years on the South Coast.

“We therefore must ensure that our roads, schools, health and sporting needs meet the needs of our growing community and we must also ensure that we have the specific support for our community as it ages.”

The following is a list of some of the priority issues, including State Government partnership projects, Rebekha has raised with Federal Ministers and Shadow Ministers in letters and meetings.

Infrastructure Needs:

  • Verdun interchange –A priority infrastructure need that I share with the Adelaide Hills and Mount Barker Council.  The current interchange only travels in one direction which means trucks and cars travelling through the Adelaide Hills heading towards Murray Bridge need to weave through Hahndorf or Littlehampton in order to gain access to the Freeway.  Similarly, without a freeway exit at Verdun we are missing out on visitors to the Adelaide Hills. I raised this with the PM in a letter prior to the 2018 Budget. The Government announced a $1million investment in a traffic plan for Hahndorf. The contract to deliver the plan was tendered earlier this year. The tender is open until April 4 and has not been awarded yet.
  • Supplementary Road Funding ­–Centre Alliance (formerly NXT) successfully fought for the reinstatement of Supplementary Road Funding following the cut of this special funding stream for South Australia in 2014. Supplementary road funding topped up the shortfall in road funding for South Australia. The funding recognised that South Australia has more than 11% of the nation’s local road network, 7% of the population but received less than 5% of the nation’s share of road funding.  Once reinstated, SA regional councils received an extra $40 million over two years to assist with maintaining local road networks. This funding is due to end on 30 June 2019 and so it is imperative that funding for this is including in this budget.
  • Victor Harbor Road – With the South Coast community continuing to grow at a rapid pace we need to see Federal and State Government investment in upgrading the Victor Harbor Road. Upgrading of Victor Harbor Road has been a long-term priority for the RAA. However, so far the State and Federal Governments are yet to commit to the duplication of this road. As the Federal Member, I will continue to fight for necessary upgrades to this increasingly busy road.
  • Continuation of the Building Better Regions Fund – I successfully advocated to change the mapping to get into the rounds. We need further rounds in order to catch up on much-needed infrastructure.
  • Northern freight bypass – getting freight out of the Hills has been a dream of multiple State and Governments. There have been multiple reports now, and the State and Federal Governments need to decide whether they are serious about this project or whether they believe the cost-benefit analysis does not stack up. If it does not, then so be it, but indecisiveness and complete inaction should not be an option.
  • Main South Road Duplication – I have met with the Main South Road Action Group and have discussed in detail their concept plans for the major Main South Road intersections at Aldinga Road, Aldinga Beach Road, Tatachilla Road and Port Road/Old Coach Road. The plans may require extra funding with a potential contribution from the Federal Government.
  • Extension of the Seaford train line to Aldinga –The communities in and around Aldinga have been growing rapidly, but without the necessary infrastructure to support them. The duplication of Main South Road to Sellicks Beach is very welcome but needs to be combined with upgrades to mass public transport, namely, an extension of the Seaford train line to Aldinga.  This will be an expensive project which will require Federal funding assistance. The first step is to ensure the preferred rail corridor is preserved and any private land compulsorily acquired, as the Federal Government will quite rightly not commit to any project where the land is not yet publicly owned.
  • Enhancing our cycling network –Cycling and shared use paths are a tourism drawcard and transport benefit for local residents. Priorities in Mayo include the extension of the Amy Gillett bikeway to link the Adelaide Hills to the Barossa, and an improved network in the McLaren Vale wine region.

Environment and the River:

  • Automation of Goolwa barrages –With rising sea levels and greater environmental stresses on the Murray River, Lower Lakes and Coorong, having automated barrages being able to respond quickly to significant weather events such as storm surges will provide tangible environmental benefits. It is a small but important piece of the puzzle in improving the resilience of the end of the River.
  • SA Murray Research Institute – Even with a perfectly executed Murray Darling Basin Plan, which works around long-term averages, the lower end of the river will still have to deal with short-term variations in water flows. A SA Murray Research Institute is needed to focus on how to make the SA end of the river more resilient to the ebbs and flows of upstream conditions. The proposed SA Murray Institute would look at issues such as real-time summaries of the ecological condition of the river to allow for the provision of advice and remedies for intermediate and extreme drought events; finding new solutions for the managing water, salinity and nutrient levels in the Coorong, Lower Lakes, and Murray Mouth in the context of real-time ebb and flow conditions; new ebb and flow management enhancements for the Murray River Channel and Floodplains; and monitoring and reporting socio-economic benefits for various stakeholders (agricultural, fisheries, indigenous, tourism, recreational) during ebb and flow events.
  • Recurrent funding for community environmental NGOs – Community environmental NGOs provide hundreds and thousands of hours of dedicated volunteer labour, and are a very cost-effective way of leveraging funding for maximum environmental benefit and effect. However, Federal Government funding of these organisations has been irregular and scattergun, diminishing the ability of our community environmental NGOs to maintain their capacity and provide consistent environmental assistance. A funding floor guarantees that capacity will be sustained and long-term community environmental projects can be started and
  • Coastal hazard management – Climate change, sea level rise, and coastal erosion are starting to have an impact on our coastlines and it is a problem beyond the funds of local councils to source and deploy the necessary expertise and fund the work required for remediation and adaptation. The Federal Government needs to step up by committing funds for research and also for national coordination.
  • Heritage listing for the Great Australian Bight National Heritage Listing would require limited funding but would substantially increase the environmental protection of the Bight and help prevent risky oil drilling.
  • Kangaroo Island feral cat eradication program – The feral cat eradication program needs to be followed through to completion as the first priority pest eradication program on Kangaroo Island, with funding for other programs to follow.

Health & Positive Ageing

  • Address the national wait-list for home care packages The waiting list has blown out over the last 12 months from 88,000 to 128,000 older Australians waiting to receive the packages they need. The government needs to stop drip-feeding funding and make a significant lump sum investment to address the shortfall in packages. I support the Council for the Ageing’s proposal that no one should have to wait more than three months to receive a package. I also want regulatory reform to ensure that monthly management fees, and exit fees, are not whittling away funds that are supposed to be spent on consumers' most basic of needs.
  • Continuation of CHSP  – Until the waiting list issue can be addressed, we need to ensure the continuation of block funding for the Commonwealth Home Support Packages (CHSP). Over 93% of people on the national waiting list, who are yet to receive an interim home care package, have been approved for CHSP. CHSP is plugging the holes of our national prioritisation queue and any reduction in funding would be disastrous.
  • Increased funding for palliative care Either through the introduction of a Level 5 package or a capped subsidy that could be applied to any home care package level. Not every individual will require high-level medical intervention as part of their end of life care and many can be supported appropriately at home. This would ensure those who need end of life care are able to receive the help they require at the time when they need it most, and avoid the often distressing and unnecessary move to a residential aged care facility. We need to see a funding model that gives greater choice and flexibility to those who require palliative and end of life care.
  • Residential palliative care.I want to see a greater focus on palliative care within the residential aged care sector too – for example, there should be increased funding to enable staff to receive specific training and there should be a specific section on palliative care within the Aged Care Quality Standards. Over 60,000 people die in residential aged care every year and yet the regulatory framework, and the corresponding funding model is ill-equipped to deal with this issue.
  • Dental scheme for older Australians  People on the aged pension would be able to claim up to $1,000 for dental work in any two year period. Over 2 million people avoided or delayed going to the dentist because of the cost. Unlike when you visit your GP or even a trip to the hospital, the majority of the costs of a trip to the dentist are funded by the patient. On average Australians pay 58% of out-of-pocket costs for dental care compared to around 12% for a GP visit. Even with private health insurance Australians still fork out over half the out of pocket costs.
  • Funding for Dementia Friendly Communities to break down stigma and enable those living with dementia to be active participants in their communities.
  • An MRI Medicare rebateable machine in Victor Harbor
  • Seed funding for a trial of dedicated GP outreach or community nurse service on Kangaroo Island.
  • Increased funding for NDIS, and their local partners, to enable more staff to be employed and appropriately trained. It is unacceptable that I have constituents who have been accepted onto the NDIS but are yet to have their initial planning meeting several months later, or other families waiting in limbo for the outcome of a review that is taking six months to determine. I also want to see regulatory changes that will enable participants to be provided with a draft copy of their plan before it is submitted as this will cut down on the number of unnecessary reviews.

Jobs & Small Business

  • Horticultural netting scheme – The horticultural growers of the Adelaide Hills have been struck by a third year of hailstorms and these freak weather events appear to be becoming the ‘new normal’. Federal support for a netting program, whether by concessional loan or a dollar for dollar scheme, would set this important industry on surer and more sustainable footing into the future.
  • Support for apprenticeships –  Apprenticeships are a tried and true pathway into skills development and steady employment with past apprenticeship mentoring programs improving completion rates from approximately 50 per cent to an impressive 91 per cent. As a false economy, the Federal Government axed the program in 2014, and apprenticeship rates plummeted. I and my team negotiated $60 million in funding to restart these programs. I want to see continued support and funding for apprenticeships.
  • TAFE upgrades – Over $1 million needs to be spent on the campuses at Mount Barker and Victor Harbor to bring the facilities up to modern standards. TAFE and similar training organisations have been the poor cousin when it comes to investing in post-secondary education in the past decade, and nowhere is that more evident than in South Australia.
  • PaTH further integration in regional and rural Australia, with a focus on small business and not large businesses.
  • KI zone tax offset – Productivity Commission is currently conducting a review, but it is important that that remote Australians are provided with a reduced tax burden to assist them with the hardship their remoteness creates.

Communications:

  • Mobile black spot program. It is great that Rounds 5 and 6 have been announced, but there needs to be yearly allocations and much more transparent eligibility criteria.
  • Funding for television retransmission towers

Veterans

Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) funding should be tied to the proportion of veterans who reside in the State or Territory such that each State would receive a percentage equivalent to the percentage of veterans that reside in that State.

  • The BEST program is an important grant scheme that enables ex-service organisations, such as RSLs, to provide advocacy services to defence and veteran communities, including important guidance on claims, entitlements and services.
  • South Australia is home to approximately 8.5% of the national veteran population and yet, in the most recent grant round received only 2.43% of national funding.
  • Between 2013 and 2018, the national BEST funding grew by $1.212 million. During the same period, South Australian ex-service organisations saw their funding reduced by 61% (or, $184,822).

Partnership projects with Local Government

I meet regularly with our councils to liaise about local issues. Councils also provide feedback and ask for advocacy for Federal Budget funding for their priority projects, including but not limited to:

  • Mount Barker Regional Sports Hub Stage 1
  • Goolwa Sports Precinct
  • Aldinga Sports Complex
  • Flat to Vale Trail
  • Amy Gillett Bikeway (Mount Torrens to Birdwood).