Budget response

After the budget was announced it seemed that the Illawarra had been short changed but the University was successful yet again. Locals were left wondering why high profile public concerns such as the Picton Rd, Princes Hwy and Maldon-Dombarton rail link were largely ignored. Federal member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, spent this week in defending the decisions. Here’s what she had to say about some of the decisions in the Illawarra.

Judy Raper, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Wollongong, spoke on why the University is so successful in attracting funds over other projects. She said the application process has been largely misrepresented, and that not enough has been done to make the community aware of the monumental work planned for the centre and the benefits it can bring to the region.

There were budget decisions other then infrastructure plans that will affect the Illawarra community. Federal member for Gilmore, Jo Gash, is concerned not only about the lack of infrastructure funding, but also some of the announcements that were generally received well. Listen in to what she had to say on the promise of broadband and how much of her electorate will miss out.

Ms Gash also spoke of concerns voiced by older residents who are worried they will be worse off with the pension increase.

Jo Gash is primarily concerned about the lack of funding for the Princes Hwy. She lays the blame on our state MP’s saying that she was of the impression that Matt Brown, the State Member for Kiama, would apply for federal funding to upgrade the Berri by-pass. This past week, it has become apparent that an application was not even drafted.

There has been a lot of anger directed at the state government about a shortfall of funding in NSW.

David Campbell, the Minister for the Illawarra and Transport,  spoke to Crossfire about the criticism.

For more information on the budget visit the federal governments 2009-10 Commonwealth budget website.


Funding for infrastructure nation wide

On Friday the Federal government officially announced a $4.7 billion Nation Building Package focused on infrastructure. The investments are another economic crisis combat tool from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his Labor Government.


The package will be divided between road, rail and education infrastructure; in many cases bringing already approved and future projects forward. Tax changes for Australian businesses will also be implemented.


$1.2 billion of the package will be put into the nation’s rail network. $580 million of that will go towards the railway connecting the Hunter Valley coal mines and Newcastle Port.


$711 million will be put towards road construction and improvement projects and will push funding for the Black Spot Program to $110 million from $50 million.


Four NSW road projects have been fast tracked in the package. The Woomargama Bypass and Tarcutta Bypass on the Hume Highway and the Bulahdelah Bypass and Sexton’s Hill, Banora Point projects on the Pacific Highway.


No funding has been put towards the Princess Highway and local Liberal members have criticized this decision by the federal government.


In education, $1.6 billion will be invested in Universities and TAFE’s nation wide. The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard announced a new Teaching and Learning Capital Fund for Higher Education which will inject $500 million into universities.


NSW universities will receive $153 million of this fund; Wollongong University is to receive $10.1 million. Wollongong University will also receive its already secured $35 million from the Higher Education Endowment Fund for the SMART Infrastructure facility (Simulation, Modeling, and Analysis for Research and Teaching).

$500 million will also be delivered to public skills and training through The Teaching and Learning Capital Fund for Vocational Education and Training.


Questions have been raised by the federal opposition about the possibility of the budget being dimished and put into deificit by Mr Rudd’s investments and rescue packages. Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull described last weeks cash handouts as a “sugar hit” and suggested that tax cuts would have been the better defence against recession.

Kevin Rudd says this latest national investment package will not put the budget into deficit.