Jun 10, 2014

Ley treats councils with contempt

Abbott Government Minister Susan Ley has walked away from road safety and economic productivity in her own electorate, meekly accepting her own Government’s savage cuts to Commonwealth grants for local roads in spite of a community backlash.

In the 2014-15 Budget the Abbott Government cut nearly $1 billion in Financial Assistance grants over the next three years by freezing indexation.

In a weekend article in The Border Mail, Ms Ley backed the Government’s decision to impose a $1.7 million funding cut on the Albury City Council and a $1 million cut on the Greater Hume Shire Council. (http://bit.ly/1oFQHSB)

Ms Ley also attempted to placate the councils by claiming the Abbott Government was delivering new infrastructure investment when, in fact, all infrastructure investment slated for spending in her electorate was delivered by the previous Labor Government.

The cuts to road funding go to the heart of the operations of local councils and will affect road safety and economic productivity in rural and regional Australia.

Ms Ley should explain to the people of Farrer why they are being asked to pay more fuel excise with the reintroduction of indexation of the excise rate at the same time as her Government rob councils by freezing indexation of financial assistance grants.

No wonder Ms Ley’s local councils are upset with the government making huge cuts and then expecting councils and state governments to wear the political blame.

At the same time as it continues to champion an extravagant paid parental leave scheme that will pay millionaires up to $50,000 to have babies, it is asking cash-strapped councils to bear Budget pain in a critical area.

And by imposing massive cuts upon council and states, the Abbott Government is also highlighting its willingness to preach about the need for spending restraint while expecting other levels of government to do the heavy lifting.