Council slams federal budget

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong Council says it’s disappointed in the recently-announced 2019 federal budget’s lack of help for refugees in the community.

The council also unveiled a 10-part wish-list for the upcoming federal election campaign, including funding for an aquatic centre, the historic Masonic Hall in Dandenong and Keysborough South Community Hub.

In response to the budget, community services director Martin Fidler said the council was “disappointed” in a 60 per cent cut in Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) funding.

Greater Dandenong has led a Back Your Neighbour Campaign to restore the SRSS income support which is being withdrawn from unemployed asylum seekers and refugees in the community.

The council, which backed the I Love Kinder campaign, was also critical that federal funding for 15 hours of kindergarten per student was only extended for one more year until 2020.

SRSS and I Love Kinder are also among the council’s election wish-list.

Other components include a community revitalization project to address unemployment and social issues, Glasscocks Road, Dandenong South, the Lyndhurst toxic-waste dump, funding for a Shepley Oval regional multipurpose centre and transport infrastructure.

Bruce Labor MP Julian Hill said the budget offered “nothing” for his electorate, locking in “some of the harshest of the Liberals’ cuts” to schools, hospitals and TAFE.

The Government’s tax cuts had “forgotten” those earning less than $40,000 a year, Mr Hill said. Its surplus had been built on $1.6 billion stripped from the NDIS.

Holt Labor MP Anthony Byrne welcomed income tax cuts, as well as new mental health and road funding but a “more substantial plan” was needed for the rapidly-growing community.

He said there had been federal inaction on road congestion. Labor would add lanes to Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road and Thompsons Road, he said.

Hotham Labor MP Clare O’Neil was disappointed in the $77.9 million cut in refugee services.

“These are some of Australia’s most vulnerable people and they need help and support when they first join our communities.

“These cuts will mean refugees now have to wait 12months, rather than six, to access Jobactive and receive that support for finding work in Australia.”

She was disappointed that there was no mention of raising the Newstart allowance.

Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield was contacted for comment.