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.