There are fears regional NSW isn’t getting its promised share of asset sale revenue, as Griffith base hospital and high school upgrades continue to wait for much needed funding.
The NSW Government pledged 30 per cent of its electricity assets sell off would be directed to rural and regional areas.
But an Auditor-General report found that just 10 per cent of the funds spent in 2015-2016 were directed to the bush. The Department of Education and NSW Treasury did not answer The Area News questions on regional funding allocation.
Adrian Piccoli said the money will come.
“The spending is lumpy, but the commitment to allocate 30 per cent to regional NSW stands,” he said.
Mr Piccoli said that urban projects were ready to go in 2015/16, which is why cities got 90 per cent, but regional and rural projects are coming through the pipeline.
“In some years regions will get more and in some years less. But overall they will get 30 per cent,” he said.
Helen Dalton, NSW Farmers Griffith branch president, doubts the funding will be allocated until close to the 2019 NSW state election.
“We need the funds now, we can afford to be put on the back burner. I mean, look at the state of our hospital. We’re in dire need of investment in our infrastructure, for years we’ve got nothing.”
Mr Piccoli, who in 2015 highlighted the need for a Griffith base hospital upgrade, said its unlikely for funding to be allocated in this year’s budget.
But he said that more than $150 million will be allocated, sometime “in the next few years”.
On Griffith high school reform, Mr Piccoli said a decision would be announced “within the next few weeks”.
A decision on two options for high school reform – one to merge Wade High School and Griffith High School, the other to upgrade both schools – was due in April, according to a December 2016 media release from Mr Piccoli.
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The first option would have $45 million allocated and the second $10 million.
The Department of Education refused to answer questions by The Area News on why a decision has been delayed and when the decision would be made.
Ms Dalton said the whole thing is “pretty poor”. She said the private sector is investing a lot in the Griffith region, and the government lagging.
Amanda Cohn, Greens councillor for Albury said, “there's a joke that NSW stands for Newcastle, Sydney, and Wollongong, and our state government is living up to that.”
“They are simply not listening to regional communities - and after forced council amalgamations and cost-shifting of road infrastructure to local government, this just adds insult to injury. As long as we keep living in "safe seats", regional communities will never get the attention we deserve.”
Ms Cohn disagreed with the poles and wires sale, saying the decision was for short term gain and will hurt future generations.