When Heathcote MP Maryanne Stuart seized the Liberal seat of Heathcote early on election night, she proclaimed that her party had "brought respect back to people in the northern Illawarra".
And while Ms Stuart's seat was the only Illawarra electorate to change hands in March, Labor promised its return to government after 12 years in opposition would mean big things for the whole region.
Six months after they took power - and with two local MPs now in cabinet and the reinstatement of the Minister for the Illawarra position - the 2023 budget was the chance to see if having Labor in power is better for a region with a reputation for being a rusted-on heartland.
According to the region's MPs, the budget reflects their commitment to "seeing the Illawarra and South Coast reach its full potential".
On the surface, there are certainly more Illawarra-specific projects funding listed in this year's budget than in 2022.
And with the region home to many public sector workers, like teachers, nurses and other health workers, any extra jobs and the boost to their take home pay will certainly be welcome.
However, those looking for any surprises or extra projects in the budget papers will be disappointed - and questions remain on how long residents will have to wait to see change.
Ahead of the budget, the region's only non-Labor MP, Kiama Liberal-turned-independent Gareth Ward - once a Coalition minister and the Illawarra parliamentary secretary - said he believed there was pressure for the government to deliver.
"Labor arrogantly see themselves as Illawarra royalty," he said.
"Now that they are in government, let's see what they deliver for the region."
With the government projecting a return to surplus in 2024-25, and this year's bottom line set to be $3.6 billion better off than predicted, cuts made by Treasurer Daniel Mookhey don't seem to have affected promised infrastructure projects in the Illawarra.
"This budget treats our schools and hospitals, our railways and roads, as assets to revitalise, not liabilities to neglect," Mr Mookhey said in his budget speech.
As promised during the election campaign, there three new schools are planned in the fast-growing greenfield suburbs to the south of Wollongong.
The government says planning will commence for a high school for Flinders and two new primary schools in Calderwood and West Dapto.
But, with $35 million allocated to plan and upgrade 28 schools across the state in 23/24 - when these Illawarra schools will actually be built remains to be seen.
Likewise, for Dapto residents hoping to get on and off ramps to allow them to travel south on the M1, or northern suburbs residents wondering what's happening with the Bulli bypass - there's only $1 million each in planning money for these projects this year.
The Mount Ousley Interchange, which will dramatically improve access to the M1 in central Wollongong, will also progress in 2023/24.
Labor will allocate $35.4 million this year and $277 million over the next four years - but, with the project also needing federal funds to go ahead, it still has no completion date.
Another project with no clear delivery is the long-campaigned for Illawarra Sports and Entertainment Precinct (ISEP), which could overhaul the deteriorating entertainment centre and surrounds.
This got $3.5 million in last year's budget for the development of a detailed business case and master plan, which the Mercury understands is still underway, but hasn't been given any new funds this year.
In the lead-up to the budget, Health Minister Ryan Park - also the first minister for the Illawarra since the Coalition cut the position - said it was no secret he was parochial when it comes to improving the local health system.
Wollongong Hospital in particular has been beset by challenges like long waiting times and paramedics stuck in bed block, not to mention major concerns about maternity services uncovered by the inquiry into birth trauma.
As promised, Wollongong Hospital has received $21.9 million for upgrades - including $12 million for the planning of a major health precinct around the hospital - and the government will also continue to deliver the new Shellharbour Hospital.
However, it looks like the $722 million project - which includes changes at Bulli Hospital and a new Warrawong Community Health Centre - might take longer than planned, with the completion date - previously 2028 - now listed as 2029.
Mr Park has also made it clear staffing, not infrastructure, will be his focus.
In our region, this will translate to about 61 temporary nurses keeping their jobs, as share of 1200 new nurses Labor will hire, and thousands of health workers getting a pay bump after the public sector wages cap was scrapped.
Amid all the warnings of fiscal challenges, budget repair and reducing the debt burden, it looks like the Illawarra - especially the central and northern parts of the region - is getting more attention this year.
But residents who want to be able to send their kids to a local school, get faster treatment in a new hospital near their house, or cut their commuting time along the clogged M1 will have to wait and see whether they end up better off now Labor is in power.
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