Monday, 29 May 2017 11:07

Message from the President: Federal Budget

WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali. WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali.

The Federal Budget identified key projects for Western Sydney, but there is still uncertainty regarding exactly how much money is available for the diverse range of projects our region urgently needs – and an implementation strategy.

Most notably, $5.3 billion has been promised for establishing a Western Sydney Airport Corporation (the entity that will build and run the new airport) however funding for supporting infrastructure and development around the airport precinct is less certain.

$10 billion over the next 10 years for a National Rail Program and $250 million over four years for affordable housing are promising investments, however Western Sydney will be competing with other projects around the country and there will need to be significant work to ensure that Western Sydney receives the support it needs to make the Badgerys precinct a success.

The Western Sydney City Deal that is to be announced later this year will need to provide further clarity on implementation strategies required to make Western Sydney a successful region.

More generally, local governments across the country will be relieved by the restoration of indexation on Federal Financial Assistance Grants. Nowhere will this be more welcome that Australia’s key growth areas – those councils experiencing unprecedented growth and associated demands on infrastructure service provision.

$200 million Building Better Regions Fund will be welcomed by councils serving some of Western Sydney’s more rural and remote communities.

$699.60 million has been reserved for the Roads to Recovery program in 2017-18.  While we are pleased to see the program continued, this amount is still far short of the funding required to maintain roads to the government’s own performance targets.

Given that 80 per cent of NSW roads are maintained by local government[1], the Australian Government is not returning anywhere near enough of the fuel excise collected in NSW to local government.

One area where the Federal Budget was relatively silent, was arts. Arts funding has been a key concern for many councils across Western Sydney, and increased support for the region would have been welcomed. That said, funding for the Australia’s creative industries generally has remained relatively unchanged.

WSROC welcomes increased investment in mental health, chronic disease, aged care and the NDIS however, we are disappointed to find no commitment towards preventative action for key lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes; the latter of which is at epidemic levels in Western Sydney.

According to the Federal Government’s 2016 Australian National Diabetes Strategy (2016 – 2020), diabetes costs Australia as much as $14 billion per year[1]– almost the same as the revenue collected via our 2016-2017 Medicare levy.

The federal strategy recognises that lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes are a systemic challenge requiring multi-sector and multi-agency collaboration, and as such, WSROC believes this should have been reflected in the budget figures.

There are some solid promises and possible benefits for Western Sydney within the 2017-18 Federal Budget, but we will need to work to secure those benefits and ensure they are delivering the types of infrastructure and programs our region and our residents need.

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[1] Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Local Government Infrastructure. Available from: http://regional.gov.au/local/publications/reports/2002_2003/C4.aspx

[1] Including direct and indirect costs. (Australian Government, Department of Health (2016). Australian National Diabetes Strategy, 2016 – 2020. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/3AF935DA210DA043CA257EFB000D0C03/$File/Australian%20National%20Diabetes%20Strategy%202016-2020.pdf

Last modified on Monday, 05 June 2017 10:17