ABC Central West: NSW state budget delivers for Central West

This week’s state budget contains few surprises for people living in NSW’s Central West region in the way of new local projects, but it does deliver funding for several projects to continue planning and construction.

Key points:

  • Measures to continue local infrastructure projects have been welcomed
  • Concerns about the land tax proposal have been raised on behalf of farmers
  • Cowra leaders welcome the certainty of funding for the hospital redevelopment

The Cowra Hospital redevelopment received $500,000 to continue preliminary works after the government committed to funding the $70 million project in 2019.

Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke had previously hoped to see “several million dollars” for the development but welcomed the budget announcement as an important start.

“We’ve got some big and tough decisions to make around whether it will be a redevelopment of the existing site or whether it will be a greenfield site elsewhere in the Cowra area, and this money will go a long way to helping us land a position in that case,” she said.

Cowra Mayor Bill West said he was hopeful that the money provided would keep the redevelopment on track to have “shovels in the ground” by 2023, but was prepared to lobby for more funding if needed.

Elsewhere, $4 million will be spent on a new MRI machine for Bathurst Hospital, as recently announced, and Mudgee Hospital received $5.4 million to complete its redevelopment.

Money for police stations, transport and schools

In Goulburn, $1.7 million has been released to design the new $25 million Goulburn Police Station.

Additionally, the first $1.5 million was allocated towards the $60 million Goulburn Police Academyupgrade.

Bathurst Police Station was also allocated $449,000 this financial year towards a $7 million upgrade.

Bathust MP Paul Toole said he was excited that increased investment in regional roads and transport would allow work to upgrade local roads and bridges to be brought forward.

Orange MP Philip Donato, from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, welcomed funding for local rail and freight infrastructure projects, benefitting Parkes in particular.

It included $8 million for a business case for fast rail between Parkes and Sydney to connect with the inland rail network, and $106 million for the Parkes Special Activation Precinct.

However, Mr Donato said he was disappointed more funding was not made available for flood mitigation along the Newell Highway, which received $7.1 million.

The Newell’s temporary closure due to flooding in 2016 had a significant negative economic effect on towns along the highway.

Some local schools are set to be upgraded after Bletchington Public School in Orange was allocated $5.2 million, while nearby Millthorpe Public School received $2.8 million.

Concerns for farmers

Mr Donato raised concerns that the Government’s proposed overhaul of the stamp duty system would negatively affect farmers.

Farmland is currently subject to stamp duty but not land tax. However, under the proposed new system it would be subject to a 0.3 per cent property tax rate.

“It’s just another tax on farmers, which I don’t agree with,” Mr Donato said.

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