• Tony Bosworth

“Lives have been lost" - no Budget help to deliver decent mental health services - Templeman

No Budget funding for Hawkesbury headspace, or to help travel agents, and nothing extra for third river crossing, though tax cuts should help thousands

We’ve been through the Federal Budget and don’t see anything specifically for the Hawkesbury, though Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, says tax cuts will help tens of thousands of residents, and there is extra funding for aged care nationally.

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman is angry about the lack of funding for specific Hawkesbury initiatives, including headspace, and used her Budget reply in Parliament house to blast the government for what she says are failures to address urgent needs.

“It's not going too far to say that lives have been lost because of the failure of this government to deliver decent mental health services to this community,” said Ms Templeman in her response in Parliament to the government’s Budget, which once again saw no funding for a Hawkesbury headspace.

“Where is our Hawkesbury headspace? It didn't happen as a result of the last budget and it has not been announced in this one either,” Ms Templeman said.

headspace is a youth mental health foundation which helps and supports young people.

Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, said addressing youth mental health issues was a priority.

Senator Marise Payne - addressing youth mental health issues a priority, but headspace not in the Budget

“Alongside relevant local stakeholders, such as the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, I will continue to work with my ministerial colleagues to establish a headspace centre for the Hawkesbury,” Senator Payne said.

But Ms Templeman doesn’t think that is good enough.

“Young people have been waiting and waiting,” she said in Parliament.

“Their parents have been waiting and waiting. Their teachers have been waiting and waiting.

“All of them, doing what they can to plug gaps, support each other, patch together bits and pieces of support. But we’re missing a really key, coordinating, no wrong door place for young people in the Hawkesbury to walk into and say to a person who will understand: I need help.

“It's not going too far to say that lives have been lost because of the failure of this government to deliver decent mental health services to this community,” Ms Templeman said.

“You wouldn’t want to be a travel agent in the Hawkesbury holding out for some extra support from this week's budget either, because it wasn't there,” Ms Templeman told Federal Parliament.

MP Susan Templeman speaking in Parliament earlier this week

“There was no support for travel agents, who are now being told that it will be another year before they can expect their customers to be able to go overseas, thanks to a broken promise of a quick vaccination program and a failed quarantine scheme.

“The businesses and workers in my community have survived fire and flood twice, and pandemic, with small businesses hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Those are their words, not mine.

“And don't tell me that bushfire recovery money is there, because so little of it hit the ground in the last year that I can count on two fingers the number of businesses that'll be able to expand their tourism offerings as a result of that so-called local economic support.

“For the Hawkesbury region — the region that has had its new much-touted flood-free bridge go under — there's no indication of additional money to do a decent job on the North Richmond duplication project for that bridge, nor for improved evacuation routes to take people east to safety.”

Senator Payne said the Budget would help in Australia’s recovery from the impacts of bushfires, floods and Covid by providing an additional tax cut to more than 10 million low and middle income earners.

“With around 58,400 taxpayers in the electorate of Macquarie, which covers the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury regions, set to benefit”, she said.

“This tax relief will see low and middle income earners benefit by up to $1080 for individuals or $2160 for couples,” Sen Payne said.

“This is more money to spend in local businesses, giving them the confidence to take on an extra worker, offer an extra shift, or buy a new piece of equipment.”

Senator Payne said that to support further job creation, the Morrison Government would extend temporary full expensing and the loss carry-back measure announced in last year’s Budget for another year.

“These measures will allow more than 99 per cent of businesses employing 11.5 million Australians to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets of any value in the year they are installed until 30 June 2023,” said the Senator.

While Ms Templeman welcomed the fact the government had “finally listened to the call for tax relief from operators of small breweries and distillers in the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains, backed by Labor”, there was, she said, a big slap in the face for households with the ongoing lack of wages growth, meaning incomes are predicted to go backwards in real terms.

“There were many deficits in this Budget, but the biggest one was a deficit of vision,” Ms Templeman said.

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