The new Tintenbar to Ewingsdale Pacific Highway upgrade was officially opened by local MP Kevin Hogan, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay and Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss at the Byron Bay tunnels on the Pacific Motorway. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
The new Tintenbar to Ewingsdale Pacific Highway upgrade was officially opened by local MP Kevin Hogan, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay and Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss at the Byron Bay tunnels on the Pacific Motorway. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Northern Rivers missing from 2019 Federal Budget

THE Federal Government is hoping the 2019 Budget will win the support of voters in the upcoming election but the Northern Rivers seemed to be left off the list of top priorities.

While there was no direct mention of the region in the budget papers, Page MP Kevin Hogan said the Northern Rivers had already been the benefactor of government policy, including the Regional Growth Fund and the Building Better Regions Fund.

"I'm really happy three funds important to me have been extended," Mr Hogan said.

"Both the Regional Growth Fund and the Building Better Regions Fund have had funding extensions. These are the Funds that I have obtained money for things like, the $15 million grant to Norco, Oakes, Crozier Oval upgrades and the Casino Saleyards redevelopment.

"This means I can continue to get funding for these types of infrastructure upgrades in our community. 

"Also great to see the Bridge Renewal Program extended. This means more money for Kyogle and the Clarence Valley to repair bridges."

The fact that those funds rolled over are crucial to me getting funding.

"For me last night isn't about spending

"The programs get funding extensions and then you go out and roll out the funding. We've delivered about $25 million worth of projects in the last few weeks and they're not election promises."

Mr Hogan also welcomed the on-going commitment to finishing the Pacific Highway upgrades.

"It was good to acknowledge there was going 332 million allocated this year and $221 million next year to complete the duplication of the Pacific Highway by 2020," he said.

"It's still one of the largest regional projects in the country."

But NSW Business Chamber's Northern Rivers Regional Manager Jane Laverty said while there was "definitely some positives" for business in the budget, she was disappointed the region didn't get more of a specific mention.

"There was a some really good news for business and the community but there is still room for the Northern Rivers overall because I think we do need the investment," Mr Laverty said.

"If that budget had identified key infrastructure projects in the Northern Rivers that would have given us the foot up to target those private enterprises.

"I think there's definitely some positives. We pushed hard for the instant write-off asset scheme and extending the threshold to $30,000.

"That means there's more money that people can use to buy essential business items.

"An additional $60 million to the Export Market Development Grant Program will particularly help our region, when we've got small business competing internationally it'll allow them to help them. It'll help small and medium sized business access new business markets and get the knowledge and skills with that program. It's a dollar for dollar program.

"Noting those positives, we are still looking for the critical projects or investments that will enable our region to live up to its full potential.

"So when it comes to the creation of ten new training hubs to connect schools, local industries and young people in regional communities, it's important that the Northern Rivers with a youth unemployment rate of 9.2 per cent, is not overlooked. This rate is unacceptably high and governments shouldn't think they can ignore us."