By the time you are reading this column, the Prime Minister will have handed down one of the most critical budgets in our lifetime.
It will need to ensure that it supports industry and grows jobs across our region.
The pandemic has caused much uncertainty across many sectors with manufacturing, tourism and hospitality being some of the worst hit.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the value of a wage subsidy in supporting business to continue to operate, despite apprehension from the government when Labor first called for this.
We have seen the value of support for low-income earners, but more still must be done to ensure stimulus flows to local economies.
Many JobSeeker recipients are finally in a position to get on top of household expenses and invest in upskilling in anticipation for a return to the workforce.
We know that many of the stimulus measures targeted at low-income earners deliver tangible results for local economies with much of the increased rate being reflected in consumer spending.
This pandemic has demonstrated the value in raising the rate of JobSeeker above the poverty line and ensuring that vulnerable Australians are supported to get a leg-up, not just be left behind.
This budget will need to focus on tax relief for lower income earners, not just the big end of town.
The research shows us that tax relief for low to middle-income earners ensures additional cash, to offset the economic activity lost through international border closures, local COVID-19 shutdowns and expected consumer caution.
I remain concerned this government will cast the net too wide and, in doing so, short change the workers who need this support the most.
Our region must be backed to deliver more trades and apprenticeships.
We need to support businesses and reinforce the generational skills and knowledge our area has to offer.
By generating more apprenticeships, we will ensure more employment opportunities for local youth.
Many businesses across the Hunter have been calling for more incentives for apprentices and traineeships to enable them to increase their workforce and train the next generation.
It is simply not good enough that during this pandemic pensioners and self-funded retirees have been left in the lurch with little support from this government and little to no access to any stimulus measures.
We need to ensure pensioners are supported with services and support. Aged care and community services are high growth sectors but only while we continue to ensure pensioners are supported to afford quality care.
We know many self-funded retirees are in a vulnerable position with investments now unstable and the market unpredictable.
We need to ensure this budget offers confidence for investors and can shore up the retirement plans of many self-funded retirees.
I have written to the Treasurer multiple times about several key infrastructure projects across our region.
We must see this budget put political point-scoring aside and deliver real outcomes for communities like ours.