Budget boost for the bush
Billion dollar infrastructure cash splash to lift Northern NSW
THE state’s north will share in more than $1 billion worth of infrastructure spending unveiled in the NSW budget in an effort to boost growth and jobs in the regions.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet yesterday announced a forecast budget surplus of $2.7 billion in the Berejiklian government’s 2017-18 budget and average surpluses of $2 billion in coming years.
Mr Perrottet also confirmed a huge $4.5 billion budget surplus for the 2016-17 financial year, a result strongly linked to selling the state’s electricity poles and wires.
For regional NSW, the centrepiece was a new $1 billion Regional Growth: Economic Activation Fund aimed at growing the economic potential of urban centres outside Sydney.
The new fund, to be bankrolled from existing investment fund Restart NSW, includes $200 million over three years for community facilities and $100 million over four years to upgrade cultural assets such as galleries and theatres.
Mr Perrottet said the fund would unlock economic growth, revitalise town centres and improve tourism amenities for visitors.
“All of this will deliver more jobs, more opportunities for businesses to grow, and create ever more vibrant regional communities,” he said.
In the state’s north, the infrastructure splurge means more spending on roads, including a share of the $1.2 billion for the Pacific Hwy upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina, and $266 million for upgrades between the Oxley Hwy and Kundabung and between Warrell Creek and Nambucca Heads.
There was $94.5 million pledged for an extra 400 prison beds at the jail in Kempsey and $84 million to continue building the $240 million bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton.
Other funding pledges include $3 million for shark management on the North Coast, $1.5 million for a new fire station at South West Rocks and $1.3 million to redevelop the Tweed Heads Police Station.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the budget would turbo-charge regional communities “like never before”.
“They are making a powerful contribution to our overall economic growth, with over 40% of jobs coming from the regions in the past two years,” she said.