Community News

Clarence MP will negotiate for a ‘better deal’

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis says the NSW Government’s 2017/18 budget is a “win for the Clarence Valley” and that he “is negotiating for an even better deal”. In his media release on the subject he said: “Strong management of the NSW economy has enabled the Government to lock in funding on major projects like the Pacific Highway upgrade, and the new bridge and gaol at Grafton. “The Budget commits the Government to spending an astonishing one billion dollars on roads in the Clarence electorate, mainly on the Pacific Highway, but also on new bridges and work on the Gwydir Highway, the Summerland Way, the Bruxner Highway and Waterfall Way. “I am pleased we are delivering on our $7million commitment for the Ambulatory Care Unit at Grafton which is due for completion next year; more funds may be needed to make GBH a state-of-the art regional facility and I will continue fighting for that. “The Government has also announced great new initiatives for first homebuyers and more money for schools and preschools, which are big priorities for me.” Other initiatives that Mr Gulaptis highlights include the Active Kids Rebate – parents can claim $100 each year to “reduce the cost of sport registration or membership fees for after-school and weekend sport and active recreation activities”, and local government, regional, industry and community organisations can apply for a share of the new $1.3billion Regional Growth Fund. He said young families with children at community preschools and long day care services would benefit from “an additional $217 million for the successful Start Strong reforms”. “Start Strong links needs-based funding to 600 hours of enrolment in quality education in the year before school to ensure more kids participate,” he said. “Every local preschool will benefit and the increased funding is guaranteed until at least 2021.” Mr Gulaptis said sports clubs will be eligible for a fifty per cent rebate on defibrillators and that the government is investing $4million “to help local clubs buy defibrillators on a dollar for dollar basis and this will save lives”. “The program is set to start in October and will also include training on the use of the machines which save people who suffer a heart attack,” he said. However, when it comes to specific projects that affect the Clarence Valley, the following is listed among the budget’s north coast “key highlights”: $1.2billion for the Pacific Highway upgrade from Woolgoolga to Ballina (state and federally funded); $84million to continue the construction of the additional bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton; and, $6.8million for the Sportsmans Creek replacement bridge at Lawrence.