LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin believes the NSW Budget handed down today (Tuesday, 21 June) lags behind Queensland’s simultaneous $1.7-billion allocation for disaster recovery and resilience in 2022-23.
“I’m disappointed that the NSW Government did not use this Budget to unlock serious funding to ‘build back better’ here in the Northern Rivers region,” Ms Saffin said. “After all, the February flood hit both states just as hard.
“I can only hope that Queensland-style funding announcements will flow once the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation stands up from July 1, and it underlines the need for a NSW version of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
“There really is an urgent need to secure a joint NSW-Commonwealth Flood Reconstruction Recovery Package and I’ve put forward suggestions at the highest levels based on my observations and advocacy since the flood.
“Budget confirmation of a $132.7-million investment in the State Emergency Service is a welcome start, particularly for a new Incident Control Centre in Lismore and a facility upgrade for Murwillumbah SES.”
However, Ms Saffin said the Murwillumbah community continued to be cheated because the Budget had nothing for a long-promised 24-hour police station for the town.
Ms Saffin welcomed Budget confirmation of an extra $149.5 million to expand the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) as long overdue.
On health, Ms Saffin said the Government now had made two promises for all these extra health workers – one from the 2019 State election still not delivered and a new one in this Budget – so where is ‘our share’ of them?
“Treasurer Matt Kean in his speech boasted that ‘we are the government for infrastructure’, so where is our infrastructure spend?,” Ms Saffin said.
“It’s an utter disgrace that there is no new money indicated for housing needs and the housing crisis right across the Northern Rivers, which was dire before the floods and is now calamitous.
“No continuation of the 16 weeks of rent assistance or acceleration of housing for flood-impacted communities, no jobs economic development program, no budget for fixing potholes or landslips, no river clean-up, and no school upgrades in the Lismore Electorate.
“We need vision and planning … resources not rhetoric need to flow from the Treasurer.”