It’s disappointing but not surprising that the NSW government’s Restart NSW program, a 10-year program established in 2011 to enable infrastructure projects to be funded and delivered, has disproportionately focused on metropolitan areas at the expense of regional.
When the program was initiated, it was legislated that 30 per cent of the funds would be allocated to rural and regional NSW. So far, they have amounted to 18.5 per cent.
Once this discrepancy was identified in the Auditor General’s report of State Finances, I questioned the government and held them accountable.
The government has pursued multi-billion dollar city stadium rebuilds and museum relocations to appease their city-dwelling constituents, rather than investing in essential infrastructure we need here.Member for Orange Philip Donato
In response, an unnamed spokesman for deputy premier John Barilaro did not check his facts and advised the media that my party did not support the program, which is absolutely incorrect.
My colleagues were in favour of the Restart NSW 2011 Bill, which passed into legislation. The NSW Parliament’s Hansard record for the Legislative Council, dated August 25, 2011, is proof of that.
Now that this discrepancy has been uncovered, the government has stated the remaining 11.5 per cent – which equates to several billion dollars – will still be spent in regional NSW.
But given that NSW is facing the toughest drought in decades, which undeniably has a far bigger impact in regional NSW than it does in the metropolitan areas, why would they leave funds for infrastructure in struggling regional NSW until the back end of the Restart NSW program, when we’re the ones who need them most urgently?
This low allocation to regional NSW is not only unfair, but downright negligent. The government has pursued multi-billion dollar city stadium rebuilds and museum relocations to appease their city-dwelling constituents, rather than investing in essential infrastructure we need here.
On October 25 I asked Mr Barilaro why the government has not yet delivered the minimum of total funding for rural and regional infrastructure projects, and if the government will commit to delivering the outstanding funds to projects in the Orange electorate.
I am still awaiting his response.
I will continue to remind the government of their obligations and pursue this matter until we receive our legislated entitlements.
CAMPAIGN FOR RAIL UPGRADES IS STILL ON TRACK
SWIFT and efficient connectivity between the Orange and Sydney is essential, and it’s what our community needs and deserves. For the region to grow and thrive, we need improved passenger rail services.
Since September, 2017 I have been busy lobbying the government, asking questions, delivering speeches in Parliament, supporting Orange Rail Action Group’s petition, and raising the issue of improved passenger rail services in the media.
I have been calling for the Bathurst Bullet to be stabled here in Orange, an updated passenger timetable, and improved rail infrastructure, including straightening of the rail line to enable the XPT replacement fleet to safely realise its high-speed capability.
I won’t give up on pursuing these services and infrastructure upgrades for our community until they’re delivered.
MO-MENTUM BUILDING IN FIGHT FOR MEN’S HEALTH
IT’S that time of year when all the bad moustaches appear, but it’s for a good cause.
Movember raises funds and awareness for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide. If you’d like to support me, go to mobro.co/philipdonato.
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