REGION FARES WELL WITH $611 MILLION BOOST BUT BLEAK OUTLOOK FOR BUSH

REGION FARES WELL WITH $611 MILLION BOOST BUT BLEAK OUTLOOK FOR BUSH

Photo caption: Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall is breathing a sigh of relief today with the 2023-24 State Budget handed down, locking in funding for key projects across the region, which has been spared the widespread cuts across regional NSW.

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

MEMBER for Northern Tablelands is breathing a sigh of relief following the handing down of today’s 2023-24 Budget, celebrating almost $612 million ($611,500,000) in capital investment for the region this financial year, including some big-ticket projects which he feared would be cut by the new State Government.

Mr Marshall said months of walking the corridors of Parliament House, intensely lobbying new Ministers and their staff, had paid off, with the region spared by the government’s razor gang, with funding to complete the new Moree ($80 million) and Glen Innes ($50 million) Hospitals and the Glen Innes Ambulance Station ($8.5 million) locked in, and, pleasingly, the Moree Special Activation Precinct (SAP) received a hefty increase in funding, from $194 million to $224.8 million.

“I’m really pleased, and more than a little relieved, to see the hard work pay off and these key projects avoid being cut or axed altogether and $30.8 million additional funding for the Moree SAP – this is really good news for our region,” Mr Marshall said.

“By working together and hard as a region to put partisan politics to the side and focus on the merits of our communities and our projects, we have managed to convince Ministers of our worth and save the furniture in the Northern Tablelands, while others have suffered.

“I’m also thrilled to see that major funding will continue to allow further upgrades on the Newell, Gwydir and New England Highways, as well as the gradual rebuild and upgrade of the notorious Kempsey Road, which is an almost $230 million project in its own right.”

While keen to celebrate these local funding wins, Mr Marshall acknowledged the bitter disappointment in the overall reduction of funding to rural and regional NSW, including the slashing of cost of living measures to households and regional grant programs.

“While lobbying for our local projects was successful, overall this year’s budget is nothing short of a kick in the guts for country NSW,” he said.

“The government has really slashed and burned, we may have saved the furniture here, but the bigger picture is pretty bleak.

“This Budget confirms the Regional Seniors Travel Card has been cut and supports to families like the Active Kids Rebate, the Creative Kids Rebate and the First Lap Voucher have all been scaled back.

“It also cancels the vital Stronger Country Communities Fund, Resources for the Regions Program and all the regional specific sport, cultural and community infrastructure funding programs.

“I believe these a very short-sighted decisions that will only serve to widen the gap between city and country in the State and I think the government will come to regret this in the long run.”

The MP said that cost of living support measures for households have been overlooked in this year’s budget – with pressures on day to day living costs expected to continue.

“Those vouchers such as the Regional Seniors Travel Card, for instance, provided practical household cost relief to more than 12,000 seniors in our region, as did the suite of Kid’s vouchers for young families,” Mr Marshall said.

“With those vouchers now off the table or substantially reduced, families will struggle to meet the costs of activities such as sport and arts.

“The outcome in today’s budget overall is good news for the Northern Tablelands, but there will be some serious belt tightening with the bush left behind in the detail.”

Some of the budget highlights for the Northern Tablelands include:
• $80 million for the new Moree District Hospital;
• $50 million for the new Glen Innes District Hospital;
• $8.5 million for the new Glen Innes Ambulance Station;
• $224.8 million for the Moree Special Activation Precinct;
• $195.1 million for the Heavy Duty Pavement Program to deliver new pavement, intersection improvements, widening of road shoulders and the provision of five additional overtaking lanes between Narrabri and Moree (NSW and Australian Governments funded).
• $892,000 for upgrades to Moree Artesian Pools.
• $888,685 for new musical studios at the Music Education Culture Community Armidale.
• $5 million for the Reconnecting Watercourse Country Program in the Gwydir.
• $227 million joint State and Federal funding to rehabilitate Armidale Kempsey Road
• $4.19 million for new and improved Aboriginal social housing;
• $2.9 million for new and improved non-Aborignal social housing;
• $28.7 million for the region’s local councils to undertake emergency road repairs;
• $9 million for upgrades on Thunderbolts Way between Uralla and Bundarra;
• $1.97 million for Bingara Road;
• $9.5 million for IB Bore Road sealing at North Star;
• $14.5 million for ongoing improvements to Waterfall Way;
• $6.12 million Boilerhouse Discovery Space at Armidale

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