23 May 2024

Budget black hole for Cape proves we’re on our own

| Lyndon Keane
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While the Federal Government completely ignored Cape York in its 2024-25 budget, priceless community spirit and resilience means we will continue to get on with life while reigniting the fight for a fair share of the funding pie. Photo: Lyndon Keane.

If there was any lingering doubt about whether those in Canberra allegedly making decisions in our best interests wanted anything to do with Cape York, they were officially laid to rest when the Federal Government handed down its 2024-25 budget on 14 May.

In the hundreds of pages of documents that make up the budget, it’s impossible to find any reference to our part of the world, let alone any mention of investment likely to improve our social and economic wellbeing. I may have missed it, but many people smarter than me have also struggled to find anything in the budget that suggests the government even knows we exist.

There was nothing for the perennial bridesmaid of infrastructure, the Peninsula Developmental Road, which means we’ve got at least another 12 months of pleading a case our politicians aren’t listening to. Trying to find a remote housing commitment similar to the $4 billion Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made to the Northern Territory? Don’t bother, it’s not there. How much has been promised to lower skyrocketing freight bills to deliver genuine cost of living relief? If you’re thinking of a number close to zero, please come and collect your prize.

Warren Entsch said Cape York had been “pretty much totally ignored” in the budget, which is quite the understatement for my money. There are some words you can’t print, but they seem a fitting way to describe the budget, as well as the deplorable muppets who thought it appropriate to completely ignore the 8000 or so of us who call Cape York home.

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I tried to maintain my budget rage on a Weipa road trip last week, but as I spoke to residents and business owners on my way north, it was replaced with the realisation everyone was just getting on with life, because that’s what we do. We’re a community and a family, and a bloody resilient one at that. Sure, it would have been wonderful to have been thrown a few bucks to spend on vital infrastructure, but we understand the money had to be committed to pork barrelling in areas of higher electorate density.

We could mope around after again being forgotten – it seems less harsh than saying we’ve been completely ignored – but what would be the point? The show must go on, so we’ve got to dust ourselves off and just get on with it. We won’t stop fighting for a fair slice of the budget pie and the attention of our political overlords, but for now, we will just keep doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Think of it as starting another season with a pair of footy boots you should have thrown out a couple of years ago. We have our Cape York community and each other’s backs, and that’s priceless.

To our esteemed leaders south of the border: we don’t forgive you for your budget bastardry, but we’ll get over it. It’s not the first time we’ve been screwed over by a government, and I strongly suspect it won’t be the last time.

You may have forgotten us with last week’s budget, but we promise we won’t forget you at election time.

And you can be certain your city-first approach to leadership won’t diminish the community spirit that makes Cape York such an incredible place to work and play. There are some things you can’t put a price on.

Original Article published by Lyndon Keane on Cape York Weekly.

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