Labor’s first NSW budget in more than a decade has allocated funding to start planning for two new primary schools and a high school in rapidly growing Illawarra suburbs.
Primary schools for Calderwood and West Dapto and a high school for Flinders were promised in the lead-up to this year’s election by Illawarra MPs.
The budget also provides for upgrades at Dapto High School for a covered outdoor learning area and a new nature playground for Minnamurra Public School.
No time frames or dollar amounts have been allocated to the projects yet.
In handing down the budget on Tuesday (19 September), NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said it signalled a “new age of public investment that benefits the many” rather than handing “profits to the few”.
He said the government had applied “prudent principles” to improve the state’s bottom line by $4 billion over the next four years.
Another key election promise by Keira MP Ryan Park, now the Health Minister, was a major investment in the Illawarra’s health sector, particularly at Wollongong Hospital.
The budget has allocated almost $22 million to improvements at Wollongong Hospital, including:
- $12 million to start the planning and design work for a future redevelopment of the hospital infrastructure and services.
- $7.85 million investment in medical imaging services to provide a new CT scanner and MRI.
- $2 million to improve radiation treatment services for cancer patients.
“I’ve always said that it shouldn’t matter where you live, everyone should have access to quality healthcare,” Mr Park said.
“It’s time to start investing in healthcare in the Illawarra and South Coast again.”
Budget funding for other health services includes:
- An additional $34.3 million for the women’s health centre program over the next four years.
- An expert advisory group on NSW birthing will be established to improve maternity outcomes.
- Health workers will receive a $3500 flat pay rise, which will see low-paid staff, such as cleaners, receive a bump as high as 8 per cent.
- $572 million on funding the permanent positions of 1112 nurses and midwives hired during the pandemic.
- Almost $53 million over four years to permanently recruit 48 full-time equivalent staff to fill critical gaps in healthcare services for victims of sexual assault.
A number of Illawarra transport projects received funding, including $20 million over four years for a scoping study to investigate the extension of Memorial Drive at Bulli, including $1 million in 2023/24 for Wollongong City Council to investigate extension options.
Another $1 million has been allocated to start planning work on additional entry and exit ramps on the M1 Princes Motorway, around Dapto in this financial year and planning and assessments for Picton Rd upgrades will receive $9.3 million.
The new Mt Ousley Interchange, which is expected to include a heavy vehicle bypass, will receive $35 million to allow work to start on the project, which is jointly funded with the Federal Government. According to Transport for NSW, the project was fully funded for planning, development and construction in May 2021.
Fire stations at Helensburgh, Thirroul and Coledale will share in $5 million for upgrades, while an election promise by Heathcote MP Maryanne Stuart to upgrade Helensburgh Fire Station will be funded to the tune of $3 million.
Funding will continue toward the completion of the Great Southern Walk and work on the Illawarra Mountain Biking Network, which started earlier this month.
Other Illawarra projects to receive funding include:
- $8 million for the WIN Entertainment Centre annual capital plan.
- $2.5 million for a Wollongong TAFE renewable energy training facility.
- $5 million for the Dapto TAFE armed active offenders facility.
The government has invested heavily in addressing the housing crisis, including $300 million for the state-owned developer Landcom to go towards building 4697 new homes, including 1409 affordable homes, as well as $60 million on publicly owned build-to-rent trials in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven and Northern Rivers.
A $224 million Essential Housing Package will include funding to extend access to temporary accommodation for people in crisis, along with funding for specialist homelessness services.
In addition, the government will establish a housing delivery target of 30 per cent for all homes on surplus government land being set aside for social, affordable, and universal housing. An audit will be conducted of all government land holdings to identify surplus land that could be used to address the State’s housing crisis.