NSW Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens) says that while this budget delivers some of the bare bones of some of the LNP election commitments for the seat of Ballina, ‘It locks the north coast into a continued cycle of roads infrastructure backlog and it ignores life on a warming planet’.
She said, ‘The NRMA said last year that Byron Shire has a $70 million dollar backlog in local roads maintenance. The $25 million dollars for road repairs for Byron Shire in the budget barely touches the surface! The fact that the Nationals are calling this line item a “Sustainable Tourism Fund” reads like a scene from the political satire Utopia – how is it sustainable exactly? Being drip-fed inadequate amounts of taxpayer dollars by a patriarchal government is not giving us independence to “sustain” our community!’
Smith says a commitment for $80 million before 2023 for the new Emergency Department upgrade at Ballina Hospital is ‘utterly embarrassing’.
‘We should have had a new hospital for Ballina a decade ago, and the community have been subsisting with a brownfield, staged development with staff and patients suffering for many years. All we know is that the next stage will happen before the next election.
‘Am I too cynical to suggest that it may even form an election promise for the LNP in the leadup to the 2023 election?
‘The robbing of the future to pay for trinkets in the present takes the cake though. This financial year straight up there is $2.3b for two sports stadium upgrades in Sydney. Those two line items alone are being funded at 12 times the total amount being spent across the whole of NSW over the next four years for solar and battery technology for consumers to access (mostly through loans).
‘There is zero climate-cost analysis in this budget; $300m being spent from the Climate Resilience Fund, but we have no idea what on, and there is nothing in the budget that addresses our emissions-reduction target of zero emissions by 2030.
‘When we see that over the ditch Jacinda Adern’s NZ government has just introduced a budget that is based on a “living standards framework” that measures the health of people and the environment, the strengths of communities and the prosperity of the nation, we can be forgiven for wishing we had a government that supported our happiness and wellbeing into the future.’
Nats MLC welcomes budget
Meanwhile, local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin welcomed the commitments from the state budget for the Ballina and Byron shires.
‘I am delighted that the major commitments that I made during the recent state election campaign will be honoured by the government,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘With over $100m committed to vital local projects, I have ensured that our community benefits from the excellent economic management of the NSW government. The budget confirms that some of the most important projects for the Ballina electorate will be delivered.
‘I was proud to announce during the election campaign that the government would commit to a redevelopment of Ballina Hospital. This includes a new Emergency Department, additional state-of-the-art operating theatre and enhanced medical services including improved medical imaging and allied health services,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘I’m delighted to confirm that this work will commence prior to March 2023,’ he said.
He says the budget also confirms the establishment of a $25 million Byron Bay Sustainable Tourism Fund to manage the impact of tourism on the region and locals.
‘With over two million tourists visiting the Byron Shire each year – 50 per cent more than visit the entire state of Tasmania – I am pleased that I have been able to convince the government to provide extra support for the Shire’s roads and infrastructure, which take such a pounding,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘Other commitments listed in the Budget include upgrading Kingsford Smith Park in Ballina, building a new school hall for Teven Tintenbar Primary School, a new Surf Life Saving Club for Brunswick Heads, constructing a new TAFE-connected learning centre in Byron Bay, extra support for the Buttery to help veterans and emergency workers tackle PTSD, and upgrading the Alstonville Football Club. I am delighted that all of the commitments I made during the election campaign will be delivered’. I look forward to working closely with local organisations over the years ahead to see them through to completion,’ Mr Franklin said.