Over the course of the last six weeks, Labor candidates in the Illawarra electorates of Whitlam and Cunningham have collectively promised millions of dollars for the local electorates.
In fact, the party plans to spend $148 million on local projects, not including not include local projects delivered as part of national funds, such as the $250 million nationwide fund for fixing potholes, of which each council is eligible for up to $2 million.
Top of the list for local projects, in terms of cost, is $95.6 million for planning on upgrades to Picton Road. This project was promised by the Coalition in the 2022 federal budget, and Labor has committed to matching that.
The next biggest bucket of money is $25 million for the Women's Trauma Recovery Centre, another matched commitment from the 2022 budget.
The party has allocated $12.5 million to training the graduates of the future needed to build an electricity network powered by renewable energy, with $10 million to the University of Wollongong and $2.5 million to Wollongong TAFE.
Other local commitments include $9 million for the Darkes Sports Park and Community Hub at Kembla Grange, $3.4 million for a Headspace facility in Shellharbour and $2.5 million for local projects to improve disability services, upgrade schools and enhance sporting, community and multicultural facilities.
Schools to benefit from this funding include:
Aside from specific spends on local projects, the Illawarra will also benefit from national funding programs where those funds are spent locally. Of these, Labor has committed to a Medicare Urgent Care Clinic in the Illawarra, part of a $135 million program, community batteries in Dapto and Warrawong out of a $200m fund and $2 million per council for repairs to potholes out of a $250 million fund.
While Labor has been critical of the Coalition's use of local projects as election sweeneters in the current and previous election campaigns, Whitlam MP Stephen Jones said that Labor's funding programs would stand up to scrutiny.
"The Commonwealth government has always funded local governments, what we're doing is boosting existing programs for a specific purpose," he said.
Besides the local projects, Mr Jones said the Illawarra would benefit from nation-wide programs.
"As important as [local projects] are, it's big, nation building projects, aged care, childcare, NDIS, renewable energy, getting manufacturing moving again, they're the key ones."
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