THIS time last year, John Barilaro promised to turbo-charge regional NSW.
He revved-up the regions with his high-octane funding-injected pledge to the bush.
Now towns in the New England will hoping there’s still a bit left the tank to top up the coffers for the last time before the NSW election in March 2019.
Mayor Col Murray wants to put Tamworth in pole-position in the funding race with the budget less than two weeks away.
“The private sector needs to see the government demonstrating confidence in a regional city like Tamworth,” he said.
“That gets growth in the economy and GDP of the region.
“It means it’s more efficient for the businesses that are exporting from the region.”
The government has a chance to be a backseat driver and give a bit of direction to the private sector.
It’s a valid call from the mayor.
The much-vaunted intermodal terminal got its necessary investment from last year’s budget and has apparently garnered some interested investors for the city as a result.
However it’s hard to know where the funding chips will fall.
Last year, the government was trumpeting its budget across the land, with ministers popping-in to plenty of towns over the divide, but this year has been a bit quieter with the pre-budget circle-work.
The last cabinet visit Tamworth had was a speedy drop-in from the deputy premier to talk to some farmers about the drought.
And that’s the topic which might loom large in the spending before the election.
There isn’t really a section of the community which is immune from the grips of the drought and many more businesses in the region could feel the pinch.
Jamie Chaffey, chairman of the newly formed joint organisation of councils, Namoi Unlimited, signalled roads and road maintenance as a priority of his for more state funding.
As the dry times continue, even one of the core functions of local government is starting to get stung.
“All parts of the community are impacted by drought and local government is not shielded from that,” he said.
“The cost of maintaining unsealed rural roads has increased as a result of the dry times.”
Will the funding flow or will we see it begin to dry-up too?