It’s little surprise Tuesday’s State budget includes serious money for the regions.
The Liberal Party was under pressure from its Coalition partner, The Nationals, to deliver for country NSW, particularly on the back of the Orange by-election result.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been at pains ever since to make good, mainly for political survival.
Goulburn has emerged quite well in the wash-up. A total $47m for the new Supermax unit, combating radicalisation, is serious money. Some may not agree with its mission, but it means jobs and money for the city. The jail’s value to our economy cannot be underrated.
Some commitments were re-announcements but again, they are welcome. Goulburn Base Hospital scores $10.2m in 2017/18, with $30m to follow in 2018/19, $60m in 2019/20 and $18m the year after. It is one of several major hospital upgrades across the State and long awaited in this area.
Lansdowne Bridge is also a big ticket item but it’s cost (over $13m) is a concern. A whopping $5m is allocated next financial year for its demolition ahead of eventual replacement.
The $1 billion Regional Growth Fund is perhaps the best news to emerge from the budget. It offers multiple opportunities for Goulburn Mulwaree, including for the performing arts centre (through the Regional Cultural Fund), roads, bridges, water and other infrastructure.
Even Local Government NSW on Tuesday welcomed the fact that every council would be eligible for funding of facilities, including swimming pools, under the Strong Communities Fund.
Separate from the budget, Goulburn Mulwaree Council will also be able to apply for low-interest loans for vital projects and more grant opportunities seem to be presenting.
The council has beat the drum on regional relocation incentives and it appears the government is listening, albeit with more work to do.
Goulburn has often missed out in past State budgets. Many say it’s because we’re not a marginal seat. That may be true but we cannot sniff at this year’s allocation.
MP Pru Goward (pictured) is right when she says we are one of the most significant growth regions in NSW.
Finally the state government is listening, thanks to concerted lobbying on several fronts. The next logical step is to connect this area with a fast and efficient rail service.