It's time that the State's riches were better shared
20th June 2017
By Greg Piper
Today’s State Budget shows that the State's finances are in good shape, due mainly to the privatisation of public assets. But it also shows that the government is continuing to spend those windfalls in Sydney at the expense of regional areas.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet today delivered a responsible Budget overall, but his assurances that it will “turbo charge the regions” will understandably be doubted by many in the Hunter. If the Government was serious about driving the economy in the Lower Hunter we would have seen significant capital works funding for projects such as the planned Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange and Pennant Street Bridge.
The Budget does contain a $1.7m commitment to prepare new costings for the interchange and associated roadworks including the Pennant Street Bridge. That commitment is welcome and a step in the right direction, but it clearly doesn’t go far enough.
There was a further $200m investment in the revitalisation of Newcastle, bringing the total commitment so far to $482m. It begs the question: if the State Government wants to again stall the interchange project at Glendale to question the business case, why would it commit another $200m to the Newcastle project which, as far as we know, still doesn’t have a business case or total costings?
Lake Macquarie is an important part of the broader Hunter Region adding greatly to the prosperity of NSW so it’s not unreasonable to expect a more equitable return to the communities from which wealth has been derived.
There are some welcome allocations including $1.8m for repairs to Fennell Bay Bridge and $1.1m for the upgrade of recreational boating facilities around the lake.
It also contains grants and funding for a number of road upgrade projects at Warners Bay, Speers Point, Morisset and Toronto.
Ongoing funding for the Wyee sewer project, money for additional bus services and palliative care projects in particular are greatly welcomed.
Key highlights for the Lake Macquarie Electorate
- $1.7m to prepare a revised strategic business case for all stages of the proposed Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange.
- $11.8m for further planning of the Fassifern-Hexham freight rail line, taking freight rail off the main passenger line.
- $1.8m for repairs to Fennell Bay Bridge.
- $600,000 for the resurfacing of Toronto Rd at Woodrising and Wangi Rd between Toronto and Dora Creek.
- $200,000 for a new traffic study on State-owned roads in the Lake Macquarie LGA.
- $150,000 towards planning of the upgrade of the intersection of Macquarie Street and Fishery Point Rd at Morisset.
- $540,000 for resurfacing roads between Warners Bay and Speers Point.
- $1.1m for Lake Macquarie council to upgrade recreational boating facilities.
- $421,000 to maintain council roads.
- $820,000 for ongoing works to connect Wyee residential areas to the main sewer network.
- $181,000 to upgrade the Dora Creek wastewater treatment plant.
- $1.86m to upgrade social housing in the Lake Macquarie electorate. A further $278,000 to provide new supply.
- Funding for additional bus services between Toronto and Charlestown, Toronto to Glendale and Wallsend, and Morisset to Toronto via Wangi.
- A share of the $100m in additional funds for statewide palliative care services to hopefully extend a 24/7 outreach program throughout all of Lake Macquarie.