Budget evokes cautious response

CENTRAL Highlands Regional Council Mayor Peter Maguire has cautiously welcomed the extension of funding for roads announced in the Federal Budget, but warns more is needed to improve and expand infrastructure for mining communities.

Cr Maguire said while he was pleased to see the Roads to Recovery program extended to 2019, he questioned the lack of clarity around providing funding for other infrastructure that is desperately needed in the rapidly growing resource communities in the Bowen Basin.

"Our regional airport has already outgrown its recent upgrade, which is a direct result of the increase in mining activity in the region," he said.

"Our health services need support to cope with the increase in population, both permanent and temporary.

"It's all very well for the treasurer to say he wants the whole of Australia to share the wealth created by the resources boom, but our communities are directly impacted and they need to be directing some of those funds back here as well.

"The last thing anyone wants is for the people living in the communities that are creating the wealth to be forgotten in all of this, and be worse off than other Australians because they choose to live here.

"We have always had vibrant, diverse communities that contribute to the nation's wealth, not just through mining royalties, but through our agricultural and tourism industries too.

"We want to ensure that our residents continue to have access to social and other services, and that they can afford to live here, and we need the support of all levels of government for that to happen."

Cr Maguire said the Gillard Government's decision to maintain financial assistance grants for local governments would help, but said distribution of the funds needed to be targeted.

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