NSW Budget 2017: Big infrastructure spend leads regional cash splurge

'Nurses and teachers' budget delivers investment to regions "largest in modern history"


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Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. Photo: Jessica Hromas/Fairfax Media

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. Photo: Jessica Hromas/Fairfax Media

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Government becomes a cash cow in record regional spend after major "asset recycling"

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A $1.3 billion regional fund to turbocharge the regions leads a large infrastructure spend on roads, water, schools and hospitals in the NSW budget.

In what many may term as a 'nurses and teachers budget', the NSW Government says it is leading the other states in job creation and economic growth - with almost 40 per cent of new jobs created in regional NSW in the last two years.

In a bid to turbocharge regional economies the Government, as revealed last month by The Land, has set up a $1.3b regional growth economic activation fund.

It includes record investment in water, roads and community facilities including a $100m cultural program  investment. The Government will pour money into regional water and gas pipeline infrastructure projects.

Regional NSW will also get some of the 27 new schools promised in a $2.2 billion schools budget, with a promise to reduce class sizes with 1000 new teachers. The government has announced $46m to improve bush schools' internet connectivity. All children involved in sport will get a $100 contribution towards sport regsitration fees from January next year.

A feature will be investment in regional hospitals, starting with a new $534m hospital at Tweed Heads, $43 million for Dubbo hospital, $8m for a new hospital at Mudgee, an extra  $30m for the redevelpoment of Armidale and Inverell hospitals and $23m extra for Macksville hospital and $10m for redevelopment of Goulburn hospital.

The government as part of a $100m palliative care package, will provide 300 scholarships in regional areas to support palliative services.

The government is backing the TAFE system with a $1.7b investment, which includes $15m for the Agskills strategy, working with Cotton Australia and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

The government is spending $182m on Local Land Services (LLS), a boost of $23m on last year partly to help support farmers through new vegetation and biosecurity laws. Although staff numbers have fallen by 20 overall from last year, the Government says it plans to employ up to 100 new LLS staff in the next two years. It explains the fall in staff numbers due to a "time anomaly" when department chiefs must declare staff numbers to Treasury.

Some other key points of the $965m primary industries expenditure includes $78m for "Sustaining the Basin"  to support efficiency for irrigators; $75m for concessional loans under the Farm Innovation Fund; $64m to destroy Imported Red Fire Ants; $18m to continue developing the Murray Darling Basin plan; $12m to remove stamp duty on crop and stock insurance, $2.3 m to build a new offshore patrol vessel to protect fisheries and $2m to research secure facilities for growing medicinal cannabis.

Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said the government "wanted to make sure any investment in this sector looks after our farmers and primary producers not just now, but well into the future".

The Government's aim is to achieve a 30 per cent growth in the value of primary production by 2020.   

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