THE state government’s budget returned mixed reviews, with childcare support welcomed by one provider, but a largely disappointed MP.
Spending for the 2017-18 year will be mostly limited to existing projects, with $9.5 million allocated to complete the $40 million realignment of the Mitchell Highway at Guanna Hill, $25 million to replace the ageing XPT fleet, $1.3 million for the Forest Road Bridge duplication and $1.5 million for an airport runway reseal.
Blayney’s Browns Creek Road and the southern Cadia access will receive $1.5 million and $2 million respectively, while Cabonne’s Gumble Road and the Cumnock S-bends will receive a combined $800,000.
The Orange to Carcoar and Orange to Molong pipelines, already in planning and construction phases, will receive a combined $37.9 million.
Local Land Services in Orange will receive almost $5.5 million for self-service and biodiversity projects, a centre for the Resolve mental health program, a share in $753,000 for the Youth on Track program and a share of $655,000 for Business Connect services.
Member for Orange Phil Donato said community transport services for Peak Hill and rebates for parents with overweight children to cover sporting activity costs were positives, but he had been hoping for more.
“For a town and a region that contributes so much to the NSW economy, especially taking into account the fiscal state of NSW, I’m slightly disappointed there’s not more funding to the electorate,” he said.
He said the XPT funding was half the amount promised in October, prior to the byelection, and he had not spotted flood-proofing for the Newell Highway.
Mr Donato said it was disappointing there was no specific funding listed for the unfunded half of the Southern Feeder Road bridge or Northern Distributor Road.
“We don’t want to let the government get away with making flashy statements and failing to deliver,” he said.
The budget included the $217 million Start Strong program helping children go to preschool at least two days a week before school.
It’s guaranteed until 2021 for community preschools.
It’s a continuation of a $115 million program which started in September last year.
That funding meant Orange Preschool Kindergarten opened for an extra 90 minutes each day so more children could could spend two days in preschool.
Director Sonya Murphy said one of the preschool’s aims was to prepare children transition to primary school.
“Two days a week gives them consistency and builds them up to be able to cope with a five day week at school,” Ms Murphy said.
“They feel confident, the like they can master the next stage in their development.”
She said the preschool had changed its hours to maximise opportunities for students, while also working to ensure it was viable community service.