Thursday, 21 June 2018 15:04

NSW Budget: Story of missed opportunities

2018/19 NSW Budget papers. 2018/19 NSW Budget papers.

Media release, 21 June 2018

 

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) says the NSW Budget has missed a golden opportunity to deliver the infrastructure required to support the one million people moving into Western Sydney over the next 18 years.

WSROC President, Cr Stephen Bali said “The forward estimates boast a $10 billion[i] surplus over five years, yet the Government is only planning to deliver on projects previously promised. Without investing this money, there will be a lack of new infrastructure to support the growth in our region.

“Despite producing a budget surplus, projects such as the Sydney Metro West and Parramatta Light Rail remain underfunded,” said Cr Bali.

“The Budget does not allocate any money for the construction of rail lines connecting Badgerys Creek Airport to Western Sydney, and maintains a steady-as-you-go approach to funding roads supporting Badgerys Creek,” he said.

“While there are investments in schools and hospital infrastructure, unfortunately, the distribution of funds has little to do with need. Some areas in Western Sydney received no additional funding to deal with school upgrades and maintenance whilst others received a bonanza.

“The Government talks about planning for future growth in Western Sydney, but the impacts of this are being felt now. We need to focus on accelerated delivery to improve quality of life for residents – we can’t afford to wait 10, 20, 30 years for these projects to be delivered.

“Councils play a critical role in supporting growth, yet there are no measures to enable councils to fulfil this role,” he said.

“The funding offered to councils to address infrastructure backlogs is a drop in the ocean of what is needed, and does nothing to address systemic financial constraints on local government.

“If councils are to act as equal partners in infrastructure and service delivery, we must develop sustainable funding mechanisms to support the delivery of community infrastructure,” said Cr Bali.

“WSROC is also surprised by the Budget’s lack of attention to waste and sustainability.

“There has been no increase in funding for waste and recycling to help councils dealing with China’s National Sword Policy. Something that should be expected in a time of significant upheaval for the recycling industry,” he said.

“Sustainable energy is also a critical area for investment over the coming years, yet there is little sign that the Government is looking at ways to proactively improve energy security.

“The Budget, unfortunately, falls short of delivering what is needed to support a rapidly growing Western Sydney. This is a missed opportunity at a time when there is room in the Budget to do so,” said Cr Bali.

ENDS

[i] NSW Budget 2018-19: Budget Statement (Budget Paper No. 1), p. 1-2.

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