Saturday, 23 June 2018

NSW Budget 2018-19: what the NSW North Coast can expect by way of state funding

The Berejiklian Coalition Government approached NSW Budget 2018-19 with an est. $3.9 billion surplus and projected smaller surpluses in following years.

In large measure due to the sale of the state's interest in the Snowy Mountain Scheme to the federal government.

This is what the budget papers indicate the state government is willing to spend on the est. 517,000 residents living within across the local government areas of Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Nambucca, Port Macquarie, Hastings, Tweed and Richmond Valley.

The following are excerpts from Budget documents.

The North Coast is a long string of seaside communities with a heavy focus on tourism and is the most biologically diverse region in New South Wales. The Government is delivering better education and health services for the region and delivering significant investment in roads to enable smoother and safer connections.

Regional highlights

Investment in education and skills:

* new Ballina High School and upgrades at Kingscliff High School and Kingscliff Public School, Murwillumbah High School and Murwillumbah East Public School

* funding for the Kingscliff Campus Connected Health Hub and the Coffs Harbour Education Campus as well as funding for TAFE Connected Learning Centres at Murwillumbah and Yamba.

Health infrastructure funding:

* $50.9 million to continue the $582.1 million construction of a hospital at Tweed

* $16.8 million for the Grafton Ambulatory Care Centre redevelopment  

* $15.5 million for the Coffs Harbour Hospital redevelopment

* $9.1 million for the $73.0 million Macksville Hospital Redevelopment

* $5.0 million for the $11.5 million Port Macquarie Hospital Car Park

* funding to partner with Tresillian to establish a Family Care Centre Hub in Coffs Harbour.

Roads and infrastructure initiatives:

* $1.2 billion for the Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina (State and Federally funded)

* $62.0 million to continue construction of the additional bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton

* $28.0 million for Oxley Highway safety and realignment works

* $20.0 million to progress the Pacific Highway Bypass of Coffs Harbour (fully funded by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments)

* $18.3 million to continue construction of the replacement Bruxner Highway bridge over the Clarence River at Tabulam.

Vibrant visitor economy:

* $1.7 million from the Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund for the Stuarts Point Foreshore Revitalisation project

* $7.7 million over four years for the Tweed Hinterlands Walk, Byron to Border Ranges

* $7.5 million for the Macleay Coast, Trial Bay precinct upgrade.

There were also announcements which, although not directly targeting the North Coast, hopefully might benefit the region at some point.

* $23.7 million in 2018-19 to employ an additional 200 paramedics (700 over the next four years) and 13 call centre staff (50 over the next four years) to improve response times, reduce paramedic fatigue and support safety

* increasing frontline health staff, with an estimated 1,370 additional frontline staff across the State, including 950 nurses and midwives, 300 doctors and 120 allied health workers such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and pharmacists

* record $2.1 billion for mental health services including:
 $100 million per year for specialist community mental health support to continue the Government’s 10-year reforms
$82.5 million for increased admitted and community-based services across NSW.

There were a number of across the board ‘initiatives announced’.

New initiatives include:

* the new Creative Kids Rebate to provide families with a $100 voucher per school aged child, for extra curricular activities including music, drama, visual and performing arts, coding and language classes. This complements the existing Active Kids $100 Rebate, announced in last year’s budget, which has been a resounding success with over $38.0 million in rebates claimed by parents

* establishing an online “one-click energy switch” service through Service NSW, which will allow consumers to find and switch to the best alternative energy deals in the market

* establishing the Service NSW cost of living service – a one-stop shop, available in Service NSW centres, online or over the phone, to promote easy access to available rebates and concessions across government

*  reducing ten of the top parking fines issued by State Government agencies by 25 per cent, ensuring that fines balance fairness and deterrence

* reducing caravan motor vehicle weight tax by 40 per cent, making caravan registration cheaper for families

* extending universal education access to preschool for three year olds, making NSW the first state in Australia to do so, providing an average saving for families of $825 dollars a year from 1 January 2019.

Law enforcement and emergency services will recieve the following:

* $288.2 million over four years to further support the re-engineering of the NSW Police Force and provide the Police Commissioner with the flexibility to deploy resources according to need and effectively address and respond to crime

* increased capability to respond to emergencies in New South Wales with:

$56.4 million over four years for the State Emergency Service Operational Fleet Replacement Program, replacing emergency vehicles and equipment, marine vessels and trailers 

$6.5 million over two years for the Rural Fire Service to repurpose emergency response helicopters gifted by the Australian Defence Force to increase bushfire response capability. 

* $52.6 million over four years from 2018-19 to support the rollout of National Facial Biometric Matching Capability across New South Wales which will enable access to new face-matching technology. This technology will increase the capability to identify suspects or victims of terrorist or other criminal activity, including identity crime

* $151.1 million in 2018-19 ($467.3 million over four years) for the Critical Communications Enhancement Program to expand the coverage of the Government Radio Network and improve critical communications during emergencies.

Apart from: 

$102.1 million (part of a five-year $1.4 billion program) to deliver outcomes that help communities and businesses adapt to a changing climate

$250.0 million in loans for the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF). The FIF provides loans of up to $250,000 for investments in farm infrastructure to boost drought preparedness and will now be accessible until 2022. The FIF also offers $50,000 seven-year interest free loans to allow farmers to transport fodder, move live-stock and preserve stock bloodlines; and 

$36.8 million to protect threatened species across NSW by maximising the number of threatened species secured in the wild, by investing $11.9 million to implement the Koala Strategy and $24.9 million through the Saving our Species program;  

there is little thought given to climate change mitigation measures, coastal erosion, water sustainability, protection of farmland or protection of remaining native forests and biodiversity generally.

In addition the NSW Treasurer announced the creation of a $3 billion NSW Generations FundA sovereign wealth fund to guard against intergenerational budgetary pressures and keep debt sustainable.

Commencing 1 January 2019 the NSW Government will introduce a 10 per cent point of consumption tax on wagering, applied on all bets. Presumably in order to capture a slice of online betting market profits. 

For a quick look at further details go to the Budget Overview here.

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