The region’s three Labor MPs have criticised the fairness of the state budget to the Illawarra.
But the Illawarra Business Chamber welcomed the investment in road upgrades on the South Coast
Keira’s Ryan Park, Shellharbour’s Anna Watson and Wollongong MP Paul Scully said they expected more funds to flow into the region from a budget that recorded a $4.5 billion surplus.
They claimed the budget held little more than further planning funds for projects already on the drawing board, including the Albion Park Rail Bypass and an upgrade for Shellharbour Hospital.
“All we see is more of the same paper-shuffling on the projects which have been planned to death for the last seven years and the privatisation of our public hospital at Shellharbour is still on the table,” Ms Watson stated.
Keira MP and shadow minister for the Illawarra Mr Park was unhappy that there was nothing in the budget for schools in his electorate.
He said there was a $14.5 million maintenance backlog in his electorate.
“I am disappointed that Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet could not devote significant funds to curb the maintenance backlog, and replace demountables in the Illawarra,” Mr Park said.
“Whether it is fixing roofs, repairing carpets or leaky toilets, creating the right learning environment for our children is of paramount importance.”
Wollongong MP Paul Scully noted there was no funding for improved access at Unanderra train station.
“The people of Wollongong will be boiling with red hot anger that this budget shares none of the success of NSW with them,” Mr Scully said.
Illawarra Business Chamber CEO Chris Lamont said he was pleased with the budget’s road funding for the South Coast, which included $789.9 million for Princes Highway upgrades.
He added he wanted to see the poles and wires money used to improve the region’s rail network.
South Coast Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris felt the budget neglected the Illawarra.
“It’s great to see some money finally being spent on our social and transport infrastructure in NSW,” Mr Rorris said.
“It’s just a shame we’re not going to see any of it in the Illawarra.
“Sometimes I think we live in a different country here.
“We see announcements about this great state of NSW that seem to stop at Waterfall and start again at the Kiama bends.”
Greens South Coast spokesman Justin Field was disappointed the budget didn’t do enough to tackle the high youth unemployment rate.
This budget was a missed opportunity to restore hope for young people across the region,” he said.