The State Budget, handed down on June 22, has met a mixed reception on the Central Coast.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, said the Budget would help the region continue its recovery from COVID-19 by focusing on jobs.
Among highlights for the Coast, he cited $3.4M to build a new, all-weather training surface at Gosford Racecourse, upgrades to five Coast surf lifesaving clubs, $32.8M to complete the redevelopment of Wyong Hospital and funds to continue major roadworks on the Pacific Highway at Lisarow, along Manns Rd, along the Pacific Highway at Wyong and on Blackwall Rd and Memorial Ave, Woy Woy.
But the region’s Labor MPs say the budget falls short on funding for new infrastructure, schools and social housing.
Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, says it is a “major disappointment” containing “re-announced promises”.
Crouch said the best way to help the local economy bounce back from COVID-19 is to create new jobs and this will be achieved through the significant share of Budget funding being allocated to the Central Coast.
“We know that many people are still doing it tough,” he said.
“That’s why the budget provides cost of living support like free preschool and $100 Learn to Swim vouchers, which will help to take the pressure off families and individuals.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the budget included $43.9M for a new $100 Learn to Swim voucher for children aged between three and six, and $150M for the Free Preschool program to continue until the end of 2022.
“This is a budget which supports and protects our families and communities through record investments in health, education and transport,” Berejiklian said.
“The biggest infrastructure pipeline in Australia now tops $108.5B and continues to be the backbone of our recovery, with NSW now adding more jobs than were lost during the height of the pandemic.”
Business NSW Central Coast also hailed the budget for its reduced deficit, solid economic management and strong commitment to infrastructure spending through the COVID recovery.
But Labor MPs say it offers no new major infrastructure projects to stimulate the Coast’s economy and supercharge jobs in the post COVID future.
“Central Coast drivers will have to wait longer for relief on major arterial roads with only the Pacific Highway at Lisarow receiving construction money for the works already underway,” they said in a joint statement.
“Road projects in other areas including Central Coast Hwy, Tumbi Umbi-Bateau Bay, Manns Rd, Gosford, and Pacific Hwy through Wyong once again only received planning dollars offering zero short to medium term relief for Central Coast road users.
“The only new major commuter funding is for Tuggerah Station commuter car park promised back in 2019 ($16.9M); other commitments are for access projects already started.
“There are only two schools on the Coast (Porters Creek under construction and Brooke Ave PS) to receive any substantial funding leading to many Coast schools continuing to rely on demountable classrooms to house students taking up valuable playground space.
“There is no construction money for the faster trains promise made at the 2019 election, only more planning money for the Woy Woy to Hornsby section.
“The social housing crisis has not been addressed with only upgrades to existing properties leading to no impact on the growing waiting lists in a Central Coast housing and rental market under real stress.
“There is no enhanced funding to address Tuggerah Lakes and Coastal erosion issues despite the cries of the community for action on both fronts.”
Shadow Minister for the Central Coast, David Harris, said the Coast had once more “been kept on hold”, with planning money, but no funds to actually start building projects.
“It’s a real disappointment that this budget has done nothing to reverse the massive cuts to social housing on the Coast which has resulted in there being 200 (fewer) social housing dwellings than there (were) 10 years ago,” he said.
Member for The Entrance, David Mehan, said the lack of sufficient social housing on the Coast has a direct impact on the current housing affordability crisis and Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, said the Coast deserves more investment, especially as we are emerging from COVID-19.
She said Premier Gladys Berejiklian has re-announced promises she had already made in the last few budgets, including the Manns Road upgrade.
“We need a budget that invests in Mann St in Gosford and West Street in Umina, not George Street in Sydney.”
NSW State Budget – Highlights for the Coast
$3.4M to construct a new, all-weather training surface at Gosford Racecourse.
$318,250 to upgrade five local surf life saving clubs.
Access to a new $200M Multi-Sport Community Facility Fund to re-turf ovals, install lighting and upgrade canteens at local sports grounds.
A new infrastructure contributions system to collect levies on Central Coast developments.
The establishment of a new Safeguards Child and Adolescent Mental Health Response Team on the Central Coast.
$32.8M to complete the redevelopment of Wyong Hospital.
A new Hospital Security Package to improve staff safety at Gosford and Wyong Hospitals.
The continuation of Patience Experience Officers at Gosford and Wyong Hospitals.
A new program to convert existing paramedics to Intensive Care Paramedics.
$879,000 to purchase and install energy efficient systems at Gosford Hospital.
$27.8M to continue the upgrade of the Pacific Hwy at Lisarow.
$6.6M for Manns Rd intersection upgrades at Narara Creek and Stockyard Place.
$4M to continue planning on the Wyong Town Centre Pacific Highway upgrade.
$1.5M to finalise planning and commence pre-construction activities on intersection improvements at Blackwall Rd and Memorial Ave, Woy Woy.
$17.8M for additional commuter car parking and accessibility upgrades at Tuggerah Station.
$9.5M for construction to begin on new lifts and accessibility upgrades at Point Clare Station.
$3.1M to continue construction of new lifts and accessibility upgrades at Lisarow Station.
$1.6M to continue construction of new lifts and accessibility upgrades at Narara Station.
$1.5M to continue construction of new lifts and accessibility upgrades at Niagara Park Station.
$45M to continue planning the Fast Rail program between Sydney, Canberra, Bomaderry, Newcastle, the Central Coast and the Central West.
$10M to transition the NSW bus fleet from diesel to zero emissions buses, including on the Central Coast.
$16.1M to complete construction of the new Porters Creek Public School at Warnervale.
$830,000 to continue the upgrade of Brooke Avenue Public School at Killarney Vale.
A 2.5 per cent pay increase for public sector employees including health workers, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and teachers.
Paid special miscarriage and pre-term birth leave for all public sector employees.
A new $100 Learn to Swim voucher for the families of every preschool-aged child.
Additional Cost of Living Specialists at Service NSW
Free preschool for the remainder of 2021 and all of 2022
The extension of the Regional Seniors Travel Card in 2022 and 2023 for 40,000 Central Coast seniors.
Funding for the Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response (PACER) program to operate in the Brisbane Water and Tuggerah Lakes Police Districts.
$356M to phase out single-use plastics, increase recycling and help councils across NSW improve their waste collection.
$400,000 in additional funding for Central Coast-based P&Cs, community groups and not-for-profit organisations through an increase to the Community Building Partnership program.
Continued access to the $1,500 fees and charges rebate scheme for small businesses to cover the cost of government fees and charges.
$8.1M to upgrade and improve social housing across the Central Coast, and $3.1M to construct new social housing in Gosford.
$881,000 for improvements to facilities at Gosford Court House.