The NSW government has allocated almost five times as much infrastructure money per head to the Hunter region than to the Illawarra, according to a Mercury analysis.
The government created its $350 million Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund in 2011 following the state election.
In June this year Treasurer Mike Baird announced a further $340 million would be added after the long-term lease of Newcastle port, taking the Hunter fund to $690 million.
In contrast, the $100 million Illawarra Infrastructure Fund was created in 2012, and was wholly contingent on the lease of Port Kembla.
Using 2011 Census figures, this works out at $1042.66 per Hunter resident compared with $227.85 for each Illawarra resident.
The figures were calculated using the population of the 11 local government areas that make up the Hunter and the five Illawarra LGAs that will benefit from the Port Kembla lease fund.
The analysis comes as NSW Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard touted his government's commitments to the Hunter by announcing eight new infrastructure projects worth $48.7 million. He said these would bring "strong social and health benefits to the region".
Mr Hazzard also revealed $338.7 million of the Hunter fund had already been delivered, meaning Newcastle has already scored projects such as a $20 million wine region road upgrade, a $2 million upgrade of the Cessnock Hospital emergency department and a $25 million investment in the University of Newcastle's city campus.
In the latest round, the Hunter received $11 million for a Newcastle Airport expansion, $7.3 million for a regional football facility and $7 million to expand the neonatal intensive care unit at John Hunter Children's Hospital.
Funding for such projects as the Bulli Hospital upgrade and the Illawarra home of football still hangs in the balance with the outcome of the Port Kembla lease fund yet to be decided.
Despite these disparate funding levels, Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka defended the treatment of his region yesterday.
"We have a $30 billion backlog of critical infrastructure across the state and I believe this is a fair contribution to the region, which will be used to make up for 16 years of neglect by Labor," he said.
"I am focused on delivering an infrastructure investment program for the Illawarra that supports a prosperous economy and boosts jobs growth to benefit the whole community."
Keira MP Ryan Park said the ongoing funding discrepancy meant the Illawarra was being left behind and he urged Mr Ajaka to be a strong voice for the Illawarra in his new position.
"We are already behind in terms of the Hunter because that region received a separate infrastructure fund several years ago," Mr Park said.
"We are going through what the Hunter went through about a decade ago, in terms of the significant downturn in their manufacturing and steel base, and that is why I've argued that we need a little bit more assistance during this time.
"They have already had work roll out of that fund, but as we go through our economic challenges and difficulties, our fund does not operate in the same way and is not at the same level."
Infrastructure NSW said it would make a decision about how the $100 million Illawarra fund would be spent later this year.