Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh has hit out at the potential impacts of the Coalition Government’s federal budget on Eden, saying it will impact badly on tourism, especially the much-loved family weekend away.
“I think it’s a budget that takes from the ‘haves-nots’ to give to the ‘haves’,” he told the Magnet on Monday
“One of the first things that is going to go for families as a result of this budget are weekends away.
“Many people from my own electorate regularly holiday on the Far South Coast, but this budget will affect their ability to do so.
“That hit to tourism will be seen right across the industry.”
Member for Eden-Monaro, Dr Peter Hendy, holds a different view.
Dr Hendy reiterated the Coalition’s commitment to local tourism through a $10million Commonwealth funding pledge to extend the breakwater wharf at Snug Cove, in order to allow cruise ships to berth alongside it.
He said the project, which will also be supported by $3million of NSW Government funding and $2million from Bega Valley Shire Council, is on track and should be complete in time for the 2015-16 cruising season.
As reported by the Magnet in April, cruise line P&O is scheduled to make its maiden trips to Eden in February and March 2015.
“That’s $10million that we are delivering for Eden, and the budget is giving large amounts of money for things like roads,” Dr Hendy said.
“My job as the Member for Eden-Monaro is to try and get as much of that funding for this electorate as possible.
“I’m in regular contact with [Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development] Warren Truss, and over the next two-and-a-half years I will continue to lobby for the people of this region.”
Sapphire Coast Tourism deputy chair Gordon Beattie said that while there are concerns around the Budget, there are positive aspects for local tourism.
“The good thing about the Budget is that it might make people think twice about going overseas and look at what’s already here in our backyard,” Mr Beattie said.
“The domestic tourism market is huge for us, and we’ve actually recorded and sustained growth in this region at a higher level than the domestic average in the last year.
“Factor in the growth of China, and plans to make Canberra Airport an international hub; that makes the Sapphire Coast a bit more accessible to overseas visitors.”
Dr Hendy stressed that the widely-criticised Budget is about “fixing Labor’s debt problem; a legacy that Australia needs to bring under control”.
He said the previous Labor government had allowed the nation’s debt to reach $667billion, and measures such as the Medicare co-payment are necessary to reduce this.
Dr Leigh also said cuts to university funding and the deregulation of fees would add further worry for local school students, who already have limited opportunities to study near home.
“We already see this story a lot in regional areas, where the message being sent to young people seems to be, ‘if you want a job, get out of town’,” Dr Leigh said.
Eden Marine High School captain Jack Webster says that he would like to spend some time in the city to get a different experience, but agreed that for those who want to stay in the local area and build a career, there aren’t many options.
“I’ve still got my heart set on uni, and I’m looking at taking a gap year to save a bit of money to get me started,” he said.
“I want to do engineering at Wollongong, and I’ll still do it, but [the budget] does make it a bit harder to fund going to uni.”