Big bucks to build bush infrastructure

A BILLION dollar spend on regional infrastructure is one of the big ticket items in today’s state budget, although just how that will play out across local electorates is unclear.

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance says his first budget, to be handed down at midday, is focused on state assets and infrastructure, confirming more than $60 billion for roads, rail and hospitals.

“It’s a budget for everybody across NSW regardless of whether you live in the regions or live in metropolitan areas,” he said yesterday.  

Last week deputy premier Andrew Stoner said among the regional investment measures were $325 million for the Water Security for the Regions program, $110 million for a new Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund and $50 million for a new Western NSW Freight Productivity Program.

Yesterday, on budget eve, member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said he had pushed for continued funding of projects already underway in the area, as well as a commitment for new projects.

“It’s important to push hard for schools, roads, and hospitals, but also in the social services area with funding assistance to help those most vulnerable in our community,” he said.

Further funding commitments were needed for important projects already underway, including the Tamworth hospital redevelopment, Manilla Rd upgrade and Woodsreef Mine rehabilitation, Mr Anderson said. 

There will also be continued commitments to the second Gunnedah rail overpass, Oxley Highway upgrade and the new Parry School.

Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said he was keen to start poring over the budget detail to see what his electorate could expect, but warned the bottomline had already been hit by the tough federal budget.

He said the NSW government was already $107 million behind after agreeing to fund a shortfall in the Seniors and Pensioner Concession Scheme after federal cuts.

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