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NSW Budget: Clarence Valley report card

Geoff Helisma |

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis’s media release about the NSW Budget spruiks “Clarence health [as] the big local winner from the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government 2019/20 Budget”.

Announcements specifically for Clarence Valley health infrastructure – Grafton Base Hospital upgrade and the Iluka ambulance station ‘election promises’ – are reported upon elsewhere in today’s Independent.

Meanwhile, Mr Gulaptis updated the status of ongoing projects, the new gaol, a new Grafton bridge and the Pacific Highway upgrade, as well as a “fair share” of other initiatives the government has promised.

“Included in a record $90billion infrastructure investment are sufficient funds to finish the $240 million new Grafton Bridge and the $798million Clarence Correctional Centre this year and the $5.3billion Ballina to Woolgoolga Pacific Highway upgrade next year,” he said.

“Beyond that, the Clarence and Richmond valleys will get their fair share of a huge increase in front line cops, teachers and doctors and nurses.

“The budget allocates state-wide funding for 4,600 extra teachers, 5,000 more nurses and midwives, 3,300 more doctors and health professionals and 1,500 more police.

“Education is not just about hiring more teachers and I am pleased the Government is putting a renewed focus on literacy and numeracy.

“This is good news for parents as are the continuation of the Active and Creative Kids vouchers and even more cost of living saving initiatives delivered through Service NSW.

“Young adults have not been forgotten, with $50 million dedicated to youth programs and infrastructure in regional NSW.”

On the Grafton bridge, the budget’s infrastructure statement says the “new $240million bridge [is] scheduled to be completed in December 2019 (with the last bridge span expected to be in place by the end of September 2019)”.

The new $798million Clarence Correctional Centre [will] “deliver 1,700 additional prison beds in 2020” and provide “opportunities for local growth and employment”.

The federal and state funded Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade is expected to be completed by 2020, at a total cost of $4.95billion – $792.336million has been budgeted in the 2019/20 year; the estimated spend by June 30, 2019 is approximately $3.922billion.

The budget also nominates $50million, in its ‘Significant Restart NSW programs in the regional New South Wales’ section, for “fast-tracking regional health infrastructure in Coraki, Grafton, Macksville, Manning, Lismore and Armidale”; however, there is no breakdown of each of these particular projects.