NSW budget 2017: What’s in it for the Illawarra, South Coast?

It was tall on spending, but short on surprises for the Illawarra. 

The 2017 NSW budget had plenty of cash to continue the region's work-in-progress projects - on the roads and at our hospitals - but little to satisfy those looking for a new, big ticket item. 

Despite many familiar projects popping up again, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet's first budget wasn't all doom and gloom – there were a few unexpected items thrown into the mix.

While not accounting for specific line items within the budget papers, Illawarra schools are set to reap the benefits of a record $4.2 billion spend on education infrastructure over the next four years. 

New school-building projects to begin in the next two years include upgrades at Gwynneville and Wollongong public schools, along with upgrade work at an undisclosed school in the Shellharbour electorate. 

The upgrades would provide additional new permanent teaching spaces and upgrade core facilities to address enrolment growth.

A new school is planned for Wilton Junction - the new community being developed near Wilton.

Among the other "new works" revealed in Tuesday's budget was the reinvigoration of the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in the Budderoo National Park at Jamberoo.

Transforming the rainforest centre into a first-class visitor destination has been costed at $4.7 million over three years, with $1.5 million allocated to the project in 2017-18.

On infrastructure of a different kind, $5.4 million will be spent this financial year to repair WIN Stadium's northern grandstand "to ensure public safety and the continued use of the stand for events".

The region's road users were by far the biggest winner, with $137 million to be pumped into continuing Princes Highway upgrades during 2017-18.

That money forms part of an overall four-year Princes Highway spend of $789.9 million, a figure revealed in Tuesday's Mercury.

As flagged, just over $17 million in planning and pre-construction money will go to the long-awaited Albion Park Rail bypass in the 2017-18 financial year.

The budget didn't include a start or completion date for the APR bypass, but stated $38.2 million had been spent on the project to date.

Elsewhere, the government allocated $19 million to guarantee the latest stage of the Princes Highway upgrade, between Berry and Bomaderry, will go ahead - and be complete by 2021. 

A total cost for the Berry to Bomaderry project wasn't included in the budget papers, which cited the amount as being "commercial-in-confidence".

However, the Mercury understands the cost is about $400 million.

The ongoing Illawarra road upgrades come as the government spends $73 billion on infrastructure over the next four years - “the equivalent to building 124 Harbour Bridges”, according to Mr Perrottet.

Money also went to continuing road improvements on the M1 Princes Motorway between Picton Road and Bulli Tops, as well as planning money for the interchange at the base of Mount Ousley.

The redevelopment of Bulli Hospital into an aged care centre of excellence also moved forward, with a $21 million spend in 2017-18. Construction of that project will start in the 2017-18 financial year.

On the justice front, the government will spend $86.8 million in 2017-18 of a $164 million project to deliver an additional 360 beds at Nowra's South Coast Correctional Centre.

Other budget winners included Illawarra families, with the government's new Active Kids Rebate to give parents $100 per school child a year to cover the cost of sport registration and membership fees from January 1.

Also from that date, llawarra small businesses with a turnover of less than $2 million will be exempt from paying duties on insurance for commercial vehicles, professional indemnity and public liability.

More generally, the government has established a $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, with Mr Perrottet using his budget speech to say regional communities were "the beating heart of NSW".

"In this budget we are turbocharging the regions like never before," he said.

Despite a $716.9 million spend on the Transport Access Program over the next four years, there was no budget line item for lifts at Unanderra train station.

An upgraded WIN Entertainment Centre also went begging. 

AT A GLANCE 

ROADS

- $789.9 million over four years to upgrade the Princes Highway

-  $137 million in 2017-18 for upgrades to the Princes Highway, including $35.5 million to complete the Foxground and Berry bypass and $19 million to start building the upgrade between Berry and Bomaderry 

- $17.3 million in 2017-18 for planning and preconstruction for the Albion Park Rail bypass 

- $5 million for M1 Princes Motorway improvements between Bulli Tops and Picton Road

- $400,000 planning money in 2017-18 for the M1 Princes Motorway interchange at the base of Mount Ousley

- $35.5 million in 2017-18 to continue the Berry bypass 

- $15 million in 2017-18 to plan the F6 extension

- $4.5 million (federally funded) for Appin Road improvements

-  $20 million to complete replacement Princes Highway Bridge at Burrill Lake 

- $23.5 million in 2017-18 for the continuation of realignment works at Dignams Creek 

- $4.2 million in planning money towards the federally funded project for a new bridge over the Shoalhaven River in Nowra

- $10.9 million planning money for a replacement bridge over the Clyde River at Batemans Bay

HEALTH

- $5 million in 2017-18 for the Shellharbour Hospital redevelopment (total project cost $250.6 million) 

- $4.4 million for the Shoalhaven Hospital car park (total project cost $9.8 million) 

- $21 million in 2017-18 to continue the Bulli Hospital Aged Care Centre of Excellence (total project cost $37.1 million)

The Illawarra will benefit from the $100 million set aside for palliative care, with two extra palliative care nurses to be allocated in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.

INFRASTRUCTURE

- $5.4 million in 2017-18 to repair the northern grandstand at WIN stadium in Wollongong, to ensure public safety and the continued use of the stand for events

EDUCATION 

- $851,000 for stage two of a TAFE connected learning centre at Bega

- A $4.2 billion investment into education infrastructure statewide over the next four years.  More than 120 new school and major upgrade projects will start in the next two financial years.

Upgrades are planned for Gwynneville and Wollongong public schools, along with an undisclosed school in the Shellharbour electorate. A new school is planned for Wilton Junction.

- Some of the $747 million set aside for maintenance backlogs over the four years should help fix problems at Illawarra and South Coast schools

JUSTICE / EMERGENCY SERVICES

 - $86.8 million in 2017-18 of a $164 million project to deliver an additional 360 beds at the South Coast Correctional Centre at Nowra

- $120,000 for new Eden Fire and Rescue NSW station 

- $2.6 million to finish the Wollongong fire station refurbishment (2017-18 allocation is the balance of the $4.95 million project)

- $4.9 million in 2017-18 to build the $5 million Bay & Basin Police Station 

- $325,000 in 2017-18 for a new State Emergency Service critical communications enhancement program out of its Wollongong headquarters

- $1.4 million to complete the NSW SES's new headquarters in Wollongong (2017-18 allocation is the balance of the $13.6 million project)

- Illawarra surf life saving clubs could share in $4 million of funding

ENVIRONMENT

- $4.7 million over three years (1.5 million in 2017-18) to reinvigorate the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre in the Budderoo National Park at Jamberoo, transforming the centre into a first-class visitor destination

- $3.9 million for a Great Southern Nature Walk, which forms part of the Wattamolla Visitor Precinct project aimed at catering for a growing number of visitors to the Royal National Park site’s natural beauty.

$2.6 million to continue work on Royal Coast Track improvements in the Royal National Park

BUSINESS

From January 1, Illawarra small businesses with a turnover of less than $2 million will be exempt from paying duties on insurance for commercial vehicles, professional indemnity and public liability.

INDUSTRY 

- Eden Wave Attenuator project: $1.2 million in 2017-18 (total cost $1.8 million)

- Port of Eden breakwater wharf extension: $26.2 million in 2017-18 (total cost $42 million)

FAMILIES

- From January 1, the government's new Active Kids Rebate will give Illawarra parents $100 per school child a year to cover the cost of sport registration and membership fees. 

HOMEBUYERS

- Illawarra homebuyers will benefit from a $4.3 billion housing affordability package aimed at boosting supply, accelerating infrastructure and reducing upfront costs 

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