War of words over state budget funding

NSW Premier Mike Baird's government handed down its first budget last week.
NSW Premier Mike Baird's government handed down its first budget last week.

The 2014-15 state budget delivered on the government's commitment to boost infrastructure and services in the Blue Mountains with significant investments in transport and roads, according to local MP Roza Sage.

"This budget delivers the major projects the Blue Mountains needs to improve the lives of people in our area," Mrs Sage said. "Roads and transport are absolutely essential to the way we live here and I am so pleased to see the vital improvements to the Great Western Highway, Bells Line of Road and Hawkesbury Road are receiving the funding they need.

"We are also getting on with the job of delivering the Opal card and initial work on delivering the $2.8 billion next-generation intercity trains that will be of untold benefit to Blue Mountains commuters."

Mrs Sage said funding in the budget included $113 million to continue upgrading the highway (including federal funding of $40 million) plus $21 million for maintenance, $16 million to continue the Bells Line of Road corridor improvement program, $5.4 million to improve surface quality on a section of Bells Line of Road near Mount Wilson Road, $2.2 million to improve surface quality on Hawkesbury Road from Winmalee to below Hawkesbury Lookout, and $31.8 million in extra funding over four years to improve Rural Fire Service public information systems, expand its rapid aerial response capability and enhance bushfire behaviour analysis.

Mrs Sage said the budget was powerfully positioned to deliver the services people expect.

"When we came to office in 2011 NSW lagged on all economic fronts," Mrs Sage said.

"We were lagging on jobs growth, productivity, housing approvals and business confidence.

"In three short years we have seen NSW rise again to become the powerhouse of the nation. We are growing three times the rate of Queensland and Victoria, housing approvals are at their highest levels in over a decade and the unemployment rate is the second lowest in the nation."

But the opposition criticised the budget, saying it had failed to address the needs of local residents.

Labor candidate for the Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle, said: "It is disgraceful that this Liberal Government is not standing up to Tony Abbott with his harsh cuts to education and health, but instead increasing TAFE cuts and fees.

"The budget 'allocated' to roads in the Blue Mountains is just routine maintenance and finishing off Labor's projects. The new rail rolling stock won't be built locally or be designed with locals in mind like the V Sets were."

Ms Doyle said residents deserved better.

"Our TAFE students are seeing courses cancelled and fees skyrocket, support services provided to schools for students with a disability have been cut, our fire station crews are still being routinely moved or taken off-line to cover short-staffed areas, and no assistance has been provided to residents not yet connected to the sewer."


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