OUT-of town workers who drive or fly into parts of regional Queensland will be forced to pour more of their income into the government purse with a plan to stop them claiming a tax break meant for locals.
By cracking down on these FIFO and DIDO workers from July 1, the government expects to claw in an extra $325 million.
The Zone Tax Offset is a rebate offered to those who live in certain isolated or remote areas.
This includes most towns north and west of Rockhampton where the climates are considered "uncongenial", that is: disagreeable or unpleasant.
Gladstone and Rockhampton residents are not given the rebate for living in their towns.
However, those in Mackay and other northern towns including Townsville and Cairns are paid $57 a year by the Australian Tax Office.
The ATO has long offered a financial incentive for those willing to live in certain areas.
Those in Mt Isa and Collinsville also qualify.
The Federal Government estimates that one-in-five who claim the Zone Tax Offset are unfairly taking advantage of the scheme by living in other centres.
To qualify for the tax break, they must work or live in one of these specific remote areas for more than 183 days a year.
For those FIFO workers who live in an area within the tax break area but must fly elsewhere to work, they will be able to keep the tax break.
The government expects the change will allow it to better target those entitled to the extra cash.
George Christensen praises Hockey's budget announcement
NORTHERN Australia is a big winner in tonight's Budget with a massive boost of $5 billion of investment, according to Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen.
This is addition to schemes to provide more pathways to jobs for people of all ages, but particularly youth, immediate benefits for small businesses, and more childcare options for families.
"Northern Australia can now step up to the plate to drive economic development and play a vital role in the nation's path back to recovery with the announcement of a new $5 billion Northern Infrastructure Facility," Mr Christensen said.
"This will open up the North and help us to realise the potential we know is there.
"The Government will partner with the private sector and the governments of Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory to provide large concessional loans for the construction of ports, pipelines, electricity and water infrastructure.
"The flow-on effects in terms of jobs and opportunities will be immense."
A number of initiatives will help people of all ages secure jobs.
"There's a new $212 million Youth Transition to Work program, an addition $106 million of intensive support trials for job seekers and a national work experience program so that 6,000 people can get genuine work experience in a real workplace," Mr Christensen said.
"This is in addition to the Work for the Dole program."
Small business will reap benefits through a company tax cut from 30 per cent to 28.5 per cent, and for those not run as companies, an annual 5 per cent tax discount of up to $1,000 per year.
"Small businesses can go out today and can claim an immediate tax deduction for each and every item they purchase up to $20, 000," Mr Christensen said.
"From tonight, it can be instantly written off to reduce tax liability.
"The other thing I have I am excited to see in this Budget is that we are amending the Zone Tax Offset so that it is only available to those who have genuinely moved to specified remote areas, and that specifically excludes Fly In Fly Out workers, saving $325 million."
The Government is also investing $3.5 billion to provide more childcare options for working families.
Canegrowers Mackay chairman weighs in on budget
CANEGROWERS Mackay Chairman Kevin Borg has welcomed some components of what he describes cautiously as a more rural and small business friendly Federal Budget 2015.
"Although Treasurer Joe Hockey's budget does not directly put profit into the pockets of cane growers struggling under the weight of increased inputs, there are some components that will have some positive impacts," Mr Borg said.
While the move to allow farmers to 'write-off' water infrastructure and fencing was on the surface a boon for primary producers, there were other factors still to consider that had not yet been addressed, he said.
"Tax deductions for water storage such as dams and other water infrastructure specifically, places cane growers in a bit of a quandary where the cost of construction of these assets will be weighed up against the costs of utilising or operating them.
Funding secured for Mackay's Ring Road
PROGRESS towards the construction of the Mackay Ring Road is on track with the announcement of close to $35 million in the Budget in 2015-16.
In addition to this, more than $70 million will be invested into road infrastructure in the next financial year.
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the Mackay Ring Road project, currently in the detailed design phase, would generate 600 jobs when work on the ground kicked off.
"We are steadily getting closer to the construction of our Mackay Ring Road, and right now the preferred contractor is undertaking the detailed design work for Stage 1, which is an 11.3km two-lane rural highway bypass that will avoid 10 sets of traffic lights between Stockroute Rd and Bald Hill Road, and it will involve the construction of 14 new bridges.
"Another commitment of $34.8 million for planning and preserving the corridor and undertaking Stage 1 in last night's Budget is the next step in its progress.
"This ring road will ease traffic flow and increase safety, and it can't come soon enough.
"There is also $65 million allocated in 2015-16 for work on the Peak Downs Highway, and this will greatly improve safety on this major thoroughfare into the mining hinterland.
"Other money will be spent on road widening, overtaking lanes and safety works."
The commitment for the region over the next four years, and this includes projects to the north of Mackay near Bowen:
Investment Road and Rail Programme
- Mackay Ring Road - $448 million in total, with $34.8 million allocated in 2015-16.
- Peak Downs Highway Safety Works - $166 million, with $30 million allocated in 2015-16.
- Bruce Highway, Sandy Gully Bridge near Bowen - $46 million with $5 million allocated in 2015-16.
Other ongoing projects in 2015-16 include:
- Bruce Highway Safety Package - $320 million, with $20 million allocated in 2015-16.
- Bruce Highway Overtaking Lanes - $177.8 million, with $22.1 million allocated in 2015-16.
- Bruce Highway Road Widening between St Lawrence and Bowen - $9.6 million with $3 million allocated in 2015-16.
Bridges Renewal Programme
- Four bridges on Peak Downs Highway to commence in 2015-16 - $35,000,000
Another series of infrastructure projects will be completed in 2015-16 are:
Black Spot Programme
- Milton Street Shakespeare Street, Mackay - $220,000
Roads to Recovery
- Mackay Regional Council - up to $2,829,426
Community Development Grants Programme
- Mackay Junior Soccer Grounds Relocation project - $1 million, including $400,000 in 2015-16.
Regional Development Australia Fund
- Mackay Civic Centre Public Realm Improvement - $8.825 million including $4.4 million in 2015-16.
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