Greens NSW have announced a fully-funded $165 million local infrastructure program for the Richmond-Tweed region.
The projects would create up to 960 new high quality jobs and training opportunities, many of them targeted at the long-term and young unemployed.
The money would be spent through local councils to build and refurbish community infrastructure, including storm-water works, rural bridge and road repair, childcare centres and preschools, sewage systems and bike paths.
Councils would be required to hire a proportion of long term and young employed residents and provide them with release from work to attend local TAFE colleges and gain new skills.
The funding is part of the $20 billion that the Greens have shown can be raised for these and other projects without privatising electricity transmission and distribution.
The loan would be serviced and repaid by additional revenue raised from reinstating the vendors duty on property speculators and higher tax rates on poker machines in highly profitable clubs, along with maintaining duties on large business transactions.
Greens candidate for Ballina Tamara Smith said: ‘The Greens are prepared to take on property developers, large corporations and the super-profitable registered clubs to provide the money needed to create a new future for neglected communities, young people and the long term unemployed.
‘The North Coast is at risk of being on the wrong end of the two speed economy, with Richmond-Tweed Labor Force Region having the second highest unemployment rate in the state.
‘As part of our vision for a green jobs-rich future for the region, we want to kick start the North Coast economy to avoid becoming trapped in a cycle of inter-generational unemployment.
‘Rebuilding high quality local infrastructure will not only make the North Coast more attractive to invest in and live in but it will create local economic activity and a skills base that will generate new employment opportunities.’
Greens candidate for Tweed, Andrea Vickers said: ‘This is about lifting areas like the Tweed out of the consequences of decades of failed trickle-down economic policies.
‘The growth cycles that have benefited property owners and shareholders have largely passed many in our community by without generating new opportunities for young job seekers.
‘The market has failed to produce enough jobs. Nor much will change without local spending that transforms the region’s infrastructure and builds a skilled workforce.
‘Local councils are the perfect vehicle for identifying and carrying out community infrastructure work. They know most about their local communities and its infrastructure needs and they know how to employ people to carry out small and medium sized capital projects.
‘The Greens have also allocated $40 million for a new public high school at Pottsville and $200 million to rebuild Tweed hospital.
“The difference between us and the Nationals is that we don’t need to privatise the state’s transmission and distribution system to pay for 21st century infrastructure.
‘The difference between us and Labor is that we can find enough money without resorting to smoke and mirrors because we are prepared to take on the vested interests.’
Greens candidate for Lismore Adam Guise said: ‘In a wealthy state like NSW, there is no excuse for inter-generational unemployment or young people fearing they will never have a job and a reasonable income.
‘Transforming NSW to a clean sustainable economy will generate thousands of new jobs. Rebuilding local economies will ensure that this state does not develop pockets of sustained unemployment, particularly in the many rural towns found in the Lismore electorate.
‘Infrastructure investment in Aboriginal communities or on Aboriginal-owned land, including water supply, sewerage and Landcare initiatives would go a long way to assist local employment and make real progress towards Closing the Gap. It would be wonderful to see more projects like the Githabul’s land remediation project in the Richmond Ranges near Kyogle funded under this scheme.’
Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: ‘After 16 years of Labor and four years of Nationals and Liberals, the full potential of the North Coast lies dormant.
‘This package is about putting real money back into the local economy, building up the skills base and creating on-going jobs.’
Tamara Smith, Adam Guise, Andrea Vickers and John Kaye for the NSW Greens
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