Chris Abraham, Mullum Creek
Did you know that the NSW government plans to spend $95.1 billion on transport infrastructure projects in Sydney over the next ten years?
Based on a population in Sydney of five million, this represents $19,000 per head of population over ten years or $1,900 per person per annum. If spending on transport infrastructure were spread uniformly throughout the state, Byron Shire residents would receive infrastructure projects amounting to $1,900 per person per annum, or $61 million per annum based on the current population of 32,000.
Think what that would mean for Byron Shire roads and how far that funding could go towards rebuilding the substandard roads that make travelling throughout the Shire so dangerous.
As we all know, nothing like this amount is actually available for spending on transport infrastructure for Byron Shire. Obviously transport infrastructure funding is heavily skewed towards Sydney. This raises the question that if state government provided more incentives for businesses to move to or set up in country areas less money would need to be spent on transport infrastructure projects in Sydney. Furthermore, less time would be spent by employees there in travelling to work as the congestion on roads would be far less.
Decentralisation has been an intermittent goal for many decades. Sharing the population load as well as sharing the funding for infrastructure could deliver that often wished for ‘win-win’ result for regional areas and their residents.
Obviously, most regional councils with small ratebases struggle with transport infrastructure costs and accessing state or federal funding is not only necessary but long overdue. Perhaps more needs to be done to encourage joint action by councils to lobby state and federal governments for a change in attitude.