State budget shows promise for region, but funding still unsighted

YESTERDAY’S state budget brought promises for the Orange region, but little in terms of specific funding allocations for those promises.

YESTERDAY’S state budget brought promises for the Orange region, but little in terms of specific funding allocations for those promises.

TUESDAY’S state budget brought promises for the Orange region, but little in terms of specific funding allocations for those promises. 

The big ticket items include a $1 million feasibility and scoping study for the proposed Needles Gap Dam and a promise from Roads Minister Duncan Gay that the Goanna Hill realignment on the Mitchell Highway will go ahead to its completion. 

But there was no specific funding allocated for the Central West Jobs Plan that deputy Premier Andrew Stoner announced in May.

Rather, member for Orange Andrew Gee said there was a $3 million boost to the Regional Industries Investment Fund to bring it to $22 million, which is the fund the money for the plan would come from.

“The way it was put to me, the $22 million is in a fund in which we will have priority,” he said. 

“If the money doesn’t flow, I will be the first to take issue with it. I don’t think people care what bank account it comes from as long as it comes.”

Mr Gee said $1 million was allocated in the 2014 budget for a feasibility study into the Needles Gap Dam, but the money for the rest of the $150 million project would come out of the $325 million allocated in the Water Security for Regions program, should the project go ahead. 

OUR SAY: BUDGET PROVES POSITIVE FOR THE REGION

“The feasibility study is a process that needs to be watertight and the project will proceed on its merits,” he said. 

“The money will be spent.”

The Goanna Hill realignment, 21 kilometres north of Orange, had been on the agenda for years but until yesterday there was no guarantee the entire 7.2 kilometres of work would be completed. 

The re-alignment would remove existing tight curves and crests to provide a wider road  that was 100 km/h standard.

“The NSW government has already spent around $2 million on surveying, design, environmental studies and geographical work, as well as purchasing land from nearby property owners,” Mr Gee said. 

There was no specific amount allocated to the project, but Mr Gee said it could cost $50 million and had a guarantee it would be finished. 

Broadly, the government announced more than $1 billion in spending to protect at-risk children and bolster disability support and homelessness services, a stark contrast to the federal budget, announced last month, which cut funding to welfare groups.

“It shows the hard work and belt tightening over the last three years has paid off,” Mr Gee said. 

“We’ve managed to fill the void left by the federal budget.”

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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