|Under the gloss of Carr's Budget pitch to the bush|
30 May 2000
The Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) will ask the Carr Government to establish a rural NSW human services strategy, after closer analysis of last weeks State Budget.
"Whilst increased hospital services are a winner, following the Sinclair report, it is now clear that rural housing, childcare, legal aid and TAFE services did not get the boost they desperately need," said NCOSS Director, Gary Moore.
"This is particularly true for smaller towns, where, according to income distribution figures released yesterday, there is now an alarming gap with the well-being of regional cities."
"Rather than produce glossy rural Budget statements, the Carr Government needs to make a concentrated investment, over the rest of this term of office, in both the bricks and mortar and the human services of the more disadvantaged rural areas."
"We welcome the State Budget's maintenance of rural government access centres. We note the maintenance of the Rural Financial Counsellor Program, although, as with many departmental budget allocations, it only funds 50% of the full 6% inflation rate estimate."
"Whilst interpreter services are to be extended into some rural regions, the Budget appears to provide no new funds to achieve this."
"There will finally be extra funds for desperately needed mental health and dental services in NSW, although they are just a start. NSW Health will have to display vigilance not seen to date, to ensure that rural areas get their fair share, and the funds are spent on their designated purposes."
"NCOSS notes the post Olympics, 10 year State capital works program. Of disappointment for rural areas is the lack of not already announced infrastructure projects in the Budget, and the refusal of the State Government to take up rural bus service improvement initiatives."
"Turning to Agriculture, many rural community organisations have expressed their concern at the apparent underspending, in 1999/2000 of the Advancing Australian Agriculture (AAA) Program. Some 44% of the State component, and 39% of the Commonwealth component, had not been spent."
"Although crop and livestock prospects look good this year, rural community groups have also expressed concern at the short-sightedness of making no Budget allocation for drought preparedness into the future."