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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Greens MP calls for tourist infrastructure fund

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Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith. Photo Tree Faerie.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens) has announced a plan for a Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, a plan that she says she will be taking to the state election in March.

Ms Smith said such a fund would ‘help alleviate the massive backlog of infrastructure needs and upkeep for roads and parks in high tourism areas in NSW such as Byron Shire’.

Without revealing the detail, which she said she would ‘roll out… closer to the election, Ms Smith said the formula would be ‘based on the ratio of tourism numbers compared to ratepayers within a Local Government Area’.

‘Local councils would receive a percentage of GST collected within their footprint. This obviously will benefit communities where there are a huge number of tourist visitors annually compared to ratepayers,’ she said.

‘The Byron Shire has 33,000 residents and just over 13,500 residential ratepayers but supports more than two million tourist visits each year.

‘We know the benefits tourism brings for businesses but we know that Byron Shire Council is left to pick up the tab to pay for the huge impact on roads and public spaces.

‘It’s ridiculous that ratepayers are expected to pay for local roads and parks where tourism numbers are so disproportionate, while the state government reaps the tax dollars, including massive amounts of Land Tax, Stamp Duty and GST.

Eliminating pork barrelling

‘Instead of having to be like beggars at the mercy of the government of the day and pork barrelling, this model provides a sustainable, annual fund that the community can bank on.

‘It’s time the regions got their fair share from the state government so that we can have safer roads, increased public transport and new public amenities,’ Ms Smith said.

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  1. Tamara Smith continues the error of blaming Byron Shire’s infrastructure issues on an apparent large number of visitors. The 2016 census data shows compared with residents, relatively few visitors were enumerated A large proportion of would be day trippers and weekenders form SE QLD , whose short stay adds relatively little to the burden on Council and NSW spending. The most serious infrastructure issue is of course roads; most of those visitors arrive by car modern light motor vehicles have little impact on properly maintained roads.

    Tamara’s Lismore colleague gives the real reason the Byron Shire, with one of the strongest rates bases in regional NSW, needs to go to cap in hand to the rest of the people of NSW to fix problems of their own doing and shows why they would squander money on their rail dreams. Sue Higginson refers to the “… the only valuable public transport asset in our region (the rail corridor)”. If you do not value the much larger transport asset that we all use – the road network – you will allow it to deteriorate to the disgraceful state that Byron’s has. Ironically dysfunctional roads add to carbon production because of the high fuel use of the heavy older vehicles used on them

    As the corridor study found, a train will do little to relive pressure on the roads. The Shire’s worst roads are not used by tourists and do not parallel the rail corridor, nor does the corridor follow the busiest trafficked routes in her electorate: Byron – Ballina and Ballina – Lismore. Their rail dreams will divert lobbying efforts and funding from fixing the mess they have caused by neglect of the roads and from improving public transport to the much larger population of older non-car households who live in the southern part of her electorate.

    Tamara has done some good work recently in getting improvements to the Bruxner Highway, but she needs to distance herself from the Grren’s rail-focused candidates in the Tweed and Lismore and focus on an unequivocal push to provide more sustainable road transport running on better roads in her electroate.

  2. Peter,
    “day trippers and weekenders form SE QLD , whose short stay adds relatively little to the burden on Council and NSW spending.”
    Qld is the place of the Four-Wheel Drive.
    It seems you have not been north of the border. It is called the Gold Coast because some have gold bullion, others have Wall Street shares and some even own islands like Hamilton Island and golf courses.
    The Qld income is a lot higher than anyone at Byron Bay. Get them to donate to the welfare of Byron Shire.

    • The 2016 census show Byron Shire and the Gold Coast both have above average socioeconomic statistics. You are right the Gold Coast has higher workplace participation and so slightly higher incomes, but the Byron Shire has higher than average wealth and, as part of that, higher rate-able property values. The rural hinterland of the Byron Shire has among the highest socioeconomic indices of any regional area in Australia, with Bangalow the best part of the Shire. That is reflected in high car ownership and low patronage of public transport.

      But my main point is that those visitors from the Gold Coast and SE QLD whether they are in 4wds or sedans or other relatively light vehicles are over the year the smaller part of traffic here, and are not the cause of the Byron Shires road problems. It is local vehicles that have in the main broken up roads. If roads are not quickly and proactively repaired they deteriorate quickly. Other councils and communities – including the Gold Coast and other shires in QLD that have large numbers of visitors – make sure they fund road maintenance. It is unfair to other people in NSW to be expected to fix those problems in a shire whose council, local member and too many of those who voted for her, are not committed to providing the best possible public transport and maintaining the roads needed to run it .

  3. Well, we should know the Greens are mainly middle class, they were fed their cream from toddlers on, the 60s gen is now coming to its third on. According to their acolytes, tourism and the arts is the answer, and one day that’s all we’ll have, the only thing you’ll be able to buy is paintings and pots, fair enough for artists and I don’t deppreciate that, but a picasso won’t drive a nail in, and tourists generally stick to cafes, so we’ll need more caffiene at three cents a cup.


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