Let’s explore the state government’s 2018-19 budget report for the Ballina electorate!
In case you missed it (ICYMI), the Ballina electorate covers Byron and Ballina local government areas and your local representative in NSW parliament is Greens MP Tamara Smith.
The NSW Budget 2018-19 Electorate Report (Ballina) is a simple 13 page document that lists capital projects, transport projects, ‘Restart NSW fund projects’ and regional grant funds across this electorate. While there’s many projects that have been previously announced, there’s a few new items.
Capital works for the area this financial year include $49.6 million for a new Ballina High School.
A ‘social housing upgrade’ will receive $1,147,000 and comes without any details. Similarly a $500,000 ‘coastal infrastructure program’ has no detail.
As for transport, a total of $14,497,000 is listed for capital projects, operating projects and maintenance. These projects are of course largely to do with road improvements and a few footpaths, but it also includes a ‘Transport Access Program’ for the proposed Byron Bay interchange.
$2,108,000 has been put aside for the planning and construction for the Byron bus interchange that includes ‘improved ramps, toilets, seating, shelters, kiss and ride zones, bike racks, improved customer information and CCTV and lighting.’
A Brunswick Heads boat ramp upgrade is pegged at $500,000, while $304,000 will go to the construction of a shared path along Balemo Drive in Ocean Shores
And do we get value for money from John Holland corporation who maintain the region’s disused railways? Despite the state government’s ‘multi-electorate transport program’, inspections and minor repairs for rail line in this electorate will cost the taxpayer $341,000 for this year.
An upgrade to the Ballina Byron Airport is pegged at $4,508,000 and falls under the ‘Restart NSW Fund.’
Bridge rebuilding around Bangalow will cost $2,589,000, while Brunswick Heads foreshore public reserve upgrades and improvements will cost $1,227,000.
Regional grants include the Byron Writers festival Story Board Road trip ($80,000), the establishment of Ignite Studios’ Lighting Sustainability upgrades and partnership development $158,000) and the Solar Art Ark, a solar powered mobile workshop/stage/stopre ($25,000).
Banglaow’s Heritage House will receive $320,000 to connect ‘families past and present’ while the Ocean Shores Waterlily Playground will receive $418,000. Byron’s Sandhills early childhood Centre will be refurbished to the tune of $255,000.
Tamara Smith MP says there is good news for Tweed, Byron and Ballina Community Transport in this budget.
She says, ‘The service will receive $1.87 million under the Commonwealth Home Support Program, plus $193,000 under the Community Transport Program.’
Yet she does claim the $12,000 allocated for biodiversity offsets for core koala habitat destroyed by the Pacific Highway upgrade ‘is a joke.’
Smith says, ‘This is an extremely small amount; the government would be better to spend that on a tagging and monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of what they’re doing at Meerschaum Vale.’