NSW Treasurer Perrottet’s second State Budget handed down addresses the growing pains many in the community are feeling by investing heavily in long term transport as well as health and education projects but misses the mark on some regional infrastructure priorities.
Property Council of Australia’s Hunter Regional Director, Anita Hugo said commitments to invest in infrastructure that will boost economic activity, drive development and grow job opportunities are welcome news but as a growing region we should always be planning for more.
“The Hunter will be looking to share in significant regional funding from the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, with over $4 billion to be used to fund projects across regional NSW but there is question around the apparent ineligibility of Newcastle to access this regional grant funding,” Ms Hugo said.
“Lake Macquarie and Newcastle were not included in the regional analysis and we will be looking for more detail around this with work to be done to ensure these key centres receive their fair share of funding on an ongoing basis.
“It was good to see a commitment of funding towards major road projects across the region including $110 million to complete delivery of Newcastle Light Rail with services in Newcastle City Centre to commence in 2019, as well as $8.3 million to fund key upgrades to Nelson Bay Road, providing crucial access improvements.
“It was also encouraging to see $38 million to continue work on the Scone bypass and $5.7 million to plan bypasses at Singleton and Muswellbrook as well as $16.3 million to continue upgrading the intersection of the M1 Pacific Motorway with John Renshaw Drive and Weakleys Drive. Further to this was $6 million towards a business plan for faster rail services between Newcastle and Sydney.
Ms Hugo said it was disappointing not to see a commitment to the expansion of the current light rail project or the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange which the Property Council will continue to advocate for.
“In this budget we saw a commitment of $75 million in total Restart NSW funding for the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund and $26.8 million over four years from 2018-19 in the Resources for Regions program including $7.8 million for the Upper Hunter Regional Mine Affected Roads program.
“Changes to vocational education that will see course fees waived for all new apprenticeships will support a pipeline of skilled workers that will be needed to meet future demand and we look forward to the positive impact this will have on the Hunter’s labour force.
“Strong funding was also committed to build new schools and health facilities as well as for the upgrade of existing facilities. This is going to help improve livability along with driving important growth, and we’ll be looking to see the Hunter gets its share of this.
“We look forward to continuing to advocate for the Hunter region and contributing to a strong future for the region,”
Source: Property Council of Australia