Regional investment must be prioritised

It’s a bit over a week and the dust has settled on what we are being told is a record-breaking budget for NSW. I’ve been having a look over the detail and undoubtedly the state is in a good financial position. The state has an extremely large amount of money and media reports that call it the “envy of the western world” are quite correct. Most of this is to be attributed to the large amounts of stamp duty collected, as well as the sale of assets. That said; there is a very clear case for rural, regional and remote areas to be getting a bigger slice of the pie.

There are some welcome initiatives such as the new Regional Growth Fund which represents an additional $1.3 billion for regional NSW. This will be flowing out via a number of sub-projects and funds, which we are yet to see the full detail on. In principle though, it is an appreciated and sizeable investment. The key for success in the delivery of the projects funded within these programs will be the actual tangible outcomes we see, rather than more money spent on planning. Proof of the success and positive benefits of this funding is a long way off for many of the communities of the west.

In many ways, this is a hard budget to criticize; although I do feel that with so much money, and having sold off large assets; the government have missed an opportunity to do some really visionary and ground-breaking projects, particularly for the bush. Those projects are happening in Sydney, but they are not happening in rural, regional and remote NSW on the same scale. Yet.

There is approximately $70 billion committed in the forward estimates, with $9 billion of that ear-marked for regional areas (so far). We need and deserve a bigger share; so let’s hope we see it next year prior to the election.

We can be thankful for a budget that places the state in a great position to be able to invest in its future, but we will be looking for a larger slice of the pie in the future. Rural, regional and remote NSW not only needs it; it deserves it.

What do you think?