In a pointed rebuff to his own Federal Coalition colleagues, NSW Treasurer and Bega MP Andrew Constance yesterday promised both fiscal responsibility and key funding for South Coast projects.
Delivering his first NSW budget as Treasurer, Mr Constance distanced himself from the austerity package announced in the federal budget.
While figures were yet to be released, the big infrastructure winners were understood to be $1.6 million to Moruya Hospital, $20 million to the Kings Highway, a significant investment in the Princes Highway, $10 million to the long awaited Batemans Bay Link Road and the same amount to a major Eden port project.
Nine months out of the NSW election, Mr Constance said the NSW was delivering to the community despite “cost shifting” by the Commonwealth.
“We’ve taken a $2.2 billion hit to our revenue expectations, courtesy of Canberra, and that does impact on our bottom line over the coming five years,” Mr Constance said.
This year NSW will invest $220 million to retain health services and $107 million to maintain pensioner concessions after the termination of National Partnership Agreements with the federal government.
“We are plugging the gap left to us by Canberra,” Mr Constance said.
“We can do that because we’ve got our budget settings right and our spending is in check.
“But we will in no uncertain terms, begin a conversation with the Commonwealth to reform the Federation.”
In a win for renal and cancer patients and their families on the Far South Coast, Mr Constance announced $1.6 million would be spent this year on the Eurobodalla Renal Dialysis and Oncology Clinic at Moruya Hospital.
Mr Constance said $10 million would be allocated to the link road, between Batemans Bay and Surf Beach.
According to Roads and Freight Minister Duncan Gay, $185 million was allocated to upgrade sections of the Princes Highway to a four-lane divided road.
This figure would include $80 million for the Foxground/Berry bypass and $76.5 million to upgrade sections at Gerringong.
It would also include a maintenance fund for the whole highway of $52 million.
A further $20 million would be spent on the Kings Highway, under a $200 million state-wide package, the Regional Freight Pinch Point and Safety Program.
Regional local government would also benefit from a $37.5 million fund to repair country roads and funding to repair bridges.
Another $10 million would be available as grants to local government to co-fund boating infrastructure.
This would include boat ramps, floating pontoons, sewerage pump-outs and dinghy/kayak storage.
A $10 million boost to Eden’s economy was announced with funding to build a wave attenuator at Snug Cove.
The safety measure will be the first stage of a larger marine project for the port.
Rural water and sewerage projects received a $39 million package.
Under the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program, local government and water authorities can receive help to upgrade and install services.
Farmers and rural landholders are set to benefit from an $11 million weed control program.
Meanwhile, Natural Resources, lands and Water Minister Kevin Humphries said a significant investment would be made infrastructure and programs to boost coastal economies.
He said the state’s South-East would benefit from a $16 million maintenance fund for breakwaters, training walls, navigation dredging, mooring and berthing facilities.
Regional local governments can share in a further $17.6 million towards a interest subsidy program to finance critical infrastructure.
Homelessness and child protection programs were also boosted in the budget, and the first Home Owners Grant was expanded.