Thursday, 27 June 2019 10:15

President's message: NSW Budget 2019

WSROC President, Cr Barry Calvert WSROC President, Cr Barry Calvert

In the wake of both state and federal elections, and last week’s State Budget announcements, WSROC continues to work toward realisation of priorities and entrenching a firm advocacy agenda.

Currently, we are meeting with key Ministers to ensure that our priorities are clear. These strategic discussions bring member council priorities to the fore and are an opportunity for WSROC to facilitate NSW Government support in working further in consultation with councils. 

This Budget certainly reflected the NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to delivering on previous investment in Western Sydney. What it lacked was action on key issues - including the state’s waste and recycling crisis, the Emergency Services Levy and Western Sydney’s lagging public transport network.

Prior to the NSW Election, local councils clearly indicated the need for government support to mitigate the increases to the Emergency Services Levy; this appeal has unfortunately gone unanswered. Councils’ limited resources are now further stretched; in the context of a $1 billion NSW surplus, this was a severely disappointing outcome.

Opportunities were missed in this Budget. The substantial investment in roads will increase navigability for people travelling throughout the region by car; however, there was no sign of a road toll relief strategy for local users.

Crucial gaps in the public transport network – including the Stage 2 of Parramatta Light Rail – were not accelerated, relegating our region to the realm of the road-user, once again.

Similarly – the Super TAFE planned for the Western Sydney aerotropolis would be operating in a void under current public transport infrastructure. Public transport connections to nearby centres including Liverpool, Fairfield and Blacktown do not currently exist, and not every aspiring apprentice in Western Sydney has access to a car and drivers’ licence – particularly not if they are school-aged. The school run could be seriously extended if these gaps continue to go unaddressed.

Further west, it was good news to see commitment to the duplication of the Great Western Highway between Lithgow and Katoomba, which will critically enhance connection between industries of the Central West with the growing Western Sydney region.

Western Sydney commuters will also benefit from the Opal card cap – which was a pleasing realisation of one of WSROC’s previous priorities. Other good news for liveability in the region included new and continuing investment in essential health infrastructure and the doubling of Active Kids vouchers.

Finally, the government’s City Deals commitments are upheld, with investment in local council projects such as a rejuvenation of Hawkesbury’s historic town centres and upgrade of the Fairfield Showground, $15 million for community initiatives in the Blue Mountains, and a new recreational hub in Lurnea.

While we look back with some disappointment, WSROC anticipates a positive, collaborative relationship with the newly-elected Berejiklian government. We will continue to meet with key ministers and update progress in due course.

Last modified on Wednesday, 17 July 2019 12:27