Wallet shock looms as Federal Govt addresses debt

WITH one week before the Federal Budget is handed down, many Fraser Coast residents could be facing a shock to the wallet as the government addresses a projected $667 billion of debt.

Wide Bay MP and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the budget would include funding for the Bruce Hwy, local roads, health and education, telecommunications and community and environment projects for the Wide Bay.

"The budget will deliver on the promises that the Coalition made at the 2013 Federal Election," he said.

"The task of restoring our nation's finances will take many years."

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said the government was in a very difficult financial position.

"There's an incredible amount of speculation around the budget and it's just that, speculation," he said.

"We do need to adjust expenditure but we must do it in a way that doesn't damage the economy and we need to continue to have growth," he said.

The region's young and unemployed and those on disability pensions could see big changes this budget if the government adopts the recommendations put forward in the Commission of Audit report.

Mr Truss said the government would respond in detail to the commission report in the budget.

"The government has already rejected some of the proposals and others will need more work," he said.

The commission report includes dozens of recommendations that would have a noticeable impact on the demographics that make up Hinkler and Wide Bay, including introducing a co-payment to see a GP.

Hervey Bay GP Dr Shaun Rudd said it appeared some form of co-payment would be introduced in the budget, but the details were still unclear.

"There is a lot of unknowns," he said.

"The devil is in the details."

Dr Rudd, who is also the Australian Medical Association Queensland president-elect, said payment options should be a matter between doctors and their patients.

He said doctors who believed their patients could not pay would bulk bill, which was especially important for families with lots of small children.

"It will certainly affect us more than other places."

2014 budget

Commission of Audit recommendations that will affect the Fraser Coast (the government is expected to announce which recommendations it will adopt in next Tuesday's budget):

  • Replacing existing income and assets test with a single means test for the aged pension and disability support pension
  • Penalising single people aged 22-30 who are long-term unemployed and live in high unemployment areas. They would lose Newstart benefits if they did not relocate to an area with high employment