Budget funding fears

COFFS Harbour is likely to miss out on funding for key issues affecting the region when the 'Sydney-centric' state budget is released today, according to our local member of parliament.

Yesterday the NSW government revealed it will embark on the biggest capital works program of any state government, with $58 billion to be spent on infrastructure over the next four years.

Spending on infrastructure is to increase by 11 per cent, with the bulk of the infrastructure funding going on roads and transport ($4 billion), health ($784 million) and education ($735 million).

But it's the big-ticket items such as the $12 billion North West Metro project that has Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, doubtful that this year's Budget will deliver on key issues that affect the Coffs Coast.

"I hope for a continuation of funding for the Pacific Highway upgrade but the government should commit to a true bypass and not the motorway that is proposed," Mr Fraser said.

"But it seems as if funding will be slashed to boost a capital works project that is Sydney-centric and does little for the people of Coffs Harbour and the whole of regional NSW."

He said expenditure going to Sydney could cost more than just money for regional people.

"Expenditure on the Pacific Highway will save lives but I doubt Coffs Harbour will get it," Mr Fraser said.

"I would hope we're not let down."

The government has also said school maintenance will receive an $11 million boost, taking the total spend to $276 million.

A NSW Teachers Federation survey of teachers and principals conducted last month found 67 per cent of respondents ranked the lack of funding for ongoing maintenance at their school as either serious or very serious.

However, Mr Fraser said funding for school maintenance is wasted if classes on the Coffs Coast are still being held in demountable buildings.

"The government should be investing in bricks and mortar for those schools on the Coast that are struggling with demountables," he said.

"If you construct new schools, new buildings, then your maintenance problems disappear."

Mr Fraser said he was hopeful for continued funding of local capital works such as the Coffs Harbour Education Campus and the Conservatorium, and increased funding for the North Coast Cancer Institute so people can be treated locally instead of having to travel.

The NSW Budget is released this afternoon.


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