State budget 2014: Illawarra misses out to Hunter again

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance and his partner Jennifer Clarke leave Parliament after he gave the state budget address. Picture: NIC WALKER

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance and his partner Jennifer Clarke leave Parliament after he gave the state budget address. Picture: NIC WALKER

The Illawarra has once again played the poor relation to its northern cousin in the NSW Budget, with the Hunter receiving yet another massive windfall in the annual spending plan.

Delivering his maiden budget speech, Treasurer Andrew Constance announced “additional amounts … in Restart NSW for the people of the Hunter, including $100 million for the Hunter Infrastructure Investment Fund (HIIF)” in addition to the $350 million already poured into that fund since 2011.

In stark contrast, the $100 million Illawarra Infrastructure Fund - earmarked to the region in 2012 from the lease of Port Kembla - remains unchanged.

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The Hunter’s extra $100 million - combined with $340 million for Newcastle’s light rail and $150 million for the ‘‘missing link’’ of the Newcastle bypass - means the northern region has received a whopping $590 million from the $1.6 billion lease of its port.

Briefing the media on Tuesday morning, the Mr Constance also proudly pointed to $1 billion dollars his government has spent on the revitalisation of Newcastle and the Hunter.

He said $185 million of the HIIF would be spent between now and June next year.

It will be a different story for the Illawarra.

According to budget documents, only a fraction of this region’s infrastruture fund will be delivered in 2014/15.

Of the 12 projects funded from the port lease money, Bulli Hospital was the only one to be listed as a line item in budget papers.

And just over half of those funds - $7.9 million of the $14.46 million aged and transitional care centre at the hospital  - will be spent in the next 12 months.

Despite no mention of any other projects in the budget papers, Premier Mike Baird office told the Mercury  ‘‘the funding drawdown profile for the Illawarra Infrastructure Fund for 2014/15 is almost $42 million’’.

It is unclear which projects this money will be spent on.

The spokeswoman also said just $300,000 of the $100 million was spent in 2013/14 - despite $20 million being allocated in the budget last year - and that the bulk of the money would be spent in the 2015/16 financial year.

This means, more than two years after the fund was first announced, more than half the cash allocated to the region following the Port Kembla lease is still MIA.

On Tuesday, Illawarra Minister John Ajaka would not say whether he thought his government’s treatment of the two rapidly transforming industrial regions was fair, only repeating claims that there had been ‘‘record spending’’ in the Illawarra.

He said the reason only $300,000 of the $100 million Illawarra port fund had been spent so far was because the government was waiting for most of the successful applicants to ‘‘complete their transactions and obtain their necessary development applications’’.

‘‘The funds are there in Restart Illawarra, they exist, but the funds will be paid as and when work progresses by the successful applicants,’’ he said.

‘‘The only applicants to date that have commenced their sod-turning, is Wollongong University for their iAccelerate, and work to be commenced in the future is Bulli Hospital.’’

‘‘The government is doing a great job in delivering for all of NSW, and it is doing so by being able to deliver a good budget with record spending throughout NSW, record spending in the Illawarra and making up for 16 years of neglect by Labor... I don’t understand why you don’t get that.’’

NSW Premier Mike Baird in Albion Park. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

NSW Premier Mike Baird in Albion Park. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

What the Illawarra will receive in 2014/2015

The proposed F6 route in 2010.

The proposed F6 route in 2010.

■ $179 million for the ongoing Princes Highway upgrade, including $2 million for Mount Ousley climbing lanes, a further $1 million for planning the Albion Park Rail bypass, $76.5 million for the Gerringong upgrade, and $80 million for the Berry and Foxground bypass. Further south there is $2million for planning for the Berry to Bomaderry upgrade, $2 million for the bridge over the Shoalhaven River at Nowra, $5 million for the Termeil Creek realignment and $1.8 million for the Dignams creek alignment;

■  Illawarra commuters could benefit from an extra $10 million from Restart NSW to advance a feasibility study for the Princes Motorway (F6) between Loftus and St Peters;

■ Two new bus routes – from Flinders to Shellcove and Dapto to the University of Wollongong;

■ $7.9million for the $14.46million Bulli Hospital aged/transitional care centre;

■ $6.1 million to commence a new ambulatory care facility for Shellharbour Hospital;

■ Shellharbour health services could receive an unknown share of $12,754,000 for planning future new health works along with six other projects state-wide;

■  $10.3 million of the $30.5million Wollongong Hospital car park upgrade;

■  The remaining $47,191,000 of the $106m Wollongong Hospital elective surgery unit expansion;

■ $10.5million to fund the bulk of the 11.9m Wollongong Court house refurbishment which is due to start in July;

■  $911,000 for the $2.8 million Bega Ambulance station;

■ $72.5million for the South East regional hospital in Bega, which is worth a total of $187 million;

■ $1.3 million for the $5.4million Illawarra industry training college;

■  $1.3 million for major and minor works at Port Kembla Port Corporation;

■ $110,000 for the creation of Dharawal National Park; and

■ A possible share of the $110 million regional tourism infrastructure fund.

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