PRESSING AHEAD: Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday.
PRESSING AHEAD: Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday. AAP

Budget misses mark in region

THE Northern Rivers business and community sectors have both given Wayne Swan a "can do better" assessment on his sixth budget.

CEO of the Northern Rivers Social Development Council, Tony Davies, said funding the NDIS was "a landmark reform that would have a real impact on the lives of people in this region", with an estimated 4000 people likely to benefit.

He said money for disability services in NSW would double or triple over the next five years.

"If the NDIS stays true to the current principle of consumer-directed care, then I applaud both sides of parliament for locking in behind this vital initiative," he said.

He also praised the changes to school funding, though questioned the sense in cutting university funding to support it.

"Universities like SCU, which have done a good job of providing tertiary education to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, will be hit particularly hard," Mr Davies said.

"They already struggle under the current funding models which favour research-based universities."

Mr Davies was also disappointed there wasn't a increase to the Newstart allowance, despite support from the business and the community sectors.

He also said there was nothing to address homelessness or social housing when the current National Partnership arrangement ends in 2014.

"By 2021 there will be 30,000 people on the North Coast that will need access to social housing," he said.

"Yes it costs money to build social housing but it's money well spent."

Mr Davies said a report by ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Services) identified a number of areas where savings could be made to fund social programs, including removing the diesel fuel subsidy to mining companies that would save $2-3 billion per year.

Manager of the Northern Rivers NSW Business Chamber, John Murray could find nothing in the budget to help local business, declaring the increase to superannuation contributions would hurt business. "There was nothing there for small business that will stimulate business confidence or consumer confidence," he said.

"Business is going to continue to struggle."


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