Student opinion: NSW Government has its priorities backwards

The NSW Government is prioritising Australia’s sporting culture and infrastructure over the lives of regional and rural Australians, and it is downright disappointing.

This lavish spending of taxpayer money within Sydney shows an obvious neglect for the necessary resources that rural Australians are missing out on. The extravagant bill includes $2.2 billion to rebuild both Allianz and ANZ Stadiums and a $50 million bonus to seven NRL teams for the expansion of their own clubs.

Each project seems, for many rural communities such as Griffith, to be incredibly trivial and unnecessary. Rebuilding two stadiums simply to allow for football fans to be “closer to the action” does not warrant such excessive spending. Furthermore, the money spent on expanding NRL “centres of excellence” would be better spent on other facilities and services in the rural sector.

For instance, the state government contributes around $300 million to domestic violence programs within the state which, considering the 22 percent increase in family violence from 2015 to 2016 within the Riverina, is vital for our region. However, the Victorian state government had promised $1.9 billion earlier this year in a family violence package for its own state. How can family violence be such a concern for Victoria, yet be put on the backburner by the NSW government?

Moreover, the ice epidemic continues to plague the Riverina, with 41 percent of deaths related to ice addiction being in rural areas. The Youth Drug and Alcohol Program, a valuable part of the NSW Drug Court, was closed in 2012, as the NSW government believed it to be too large of an expense for such small successes, regardless of its prominent effectiveness.

While Wagga Wagga has its own Riverina Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centre, it can only house a maximum of 30 patients at a time. The NSW government should be focusing their finances on providing valuable resources to solving these issues.

But, let us not forget a poignant example of the state government’s indifference to the health services within Griffith - the proposed downgrading of the Griffith Base Hospital through removal of Griffith’s histopathology department.

The state government seeks to serve its economically-achieving capital, while it allows rural Australians, such as Griffith and surrounding areas, to settle for under-financed and inadequate resources. Being able to sit a bit closer to a field to watch a game of catch is not worth losing our health services or required funds for necessary regional resources.

Elizabeth Portolesi was Marian Catholic College Dux in 2017. She plans to study law and international relations at ANU in 2018.