Budget 2014: Regional Australia has its say

ALMOST half of respondents to a Fairfax Regional Network pre-budget poll this week have rated this year's federal budget the lowest on the scale.

In a non-scientific snapshot of reader views, 49.31 per cent of respondents rated the budget overall as very bad, while just 7.20 per cent rated it a very good budget. Almost nine per cent thought it was a fair budget.

Most respondents believed the government was breaking its pre-election promises with this budget, and 64.78 per cent believed this budget would change the way they voted at the next federal election.

Among the hot issues in this year's budget, there was a mixed response to how readers would adapt to indexation of the fuel excise.

Of the respondents, 41.05 per cent said they would have to cut back on how far and how often they drove, 36.5 per cent said it would not change their travel habits, while 22.45 per cent said they would cut back expenses in other areas.

More than half of respondents said they would visit the doctor less if they had to pay a fee, compared with 22.57 per cent who said they already paid to visit their doctor.

Nearly 54 per cent said if they had to pay more towards a tertiary education, it would affect whether or not they pursued it.

In a pre-budget analysis, Fairfax economics editor Ross Gittins said deregulating university fees would be of an advantage to regional Australia and regional universities.

He said big city universities would increase fees, while regional universities would not.

"It'll make students and school leavers in regional Australia more inclined to stick around and go to a regional university whose fees haven't gone up," Mr Gittins said.

"It will increase the drift of city students who come out to regional areas to get their education."

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