Despite a record surplus as the government reaps the rewards of asset sales, Port Stephens and the Hunter has largely missed out in this year’s state budget.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet unveiled budget surpluses worth almost $12 billion, underpinned by stamp duty from a booming property market and asset privatisation, as well as $23 billion worth of cost cuts.
The government said it's using that income to fund some $72 billion in infrastructure across the state in the next four years, including projects like a $720 million to upgrade Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick.
Tomaree hospital was not among the government’s announcements which angered Port Stephens MP Kate Washington.
“When we have so many aged care facilities, so many people in care, it’s irresponsible to have so many inadequate health facilities in Port Stephens,” Ms Washington said.
“What we’re seeing once again is all this money going to Sydney.”
There was similar disappointment when the government did not announce funds for the duplication of Nelson Bay Road from Fern Bay through to Nelson Bay.
“We’ve got $1.35 million for resurfacing on Cabbage Tree Road but we’ve got nothing for Nelson Bay Road,” Ms Washington said.
“But [past premier] Mike Baird stood here seeking election and promised $67 million, and still we haven’t seen a dollar.”
There was no joy in school funding either.
So while the government boasted a record commitment to education worth $4.2 billion invested into new and existing school projects over the next four years, Port Stephens schools were not among the winners.
It was a bitter blow for Ms Washington who has campaigned for a new high school at Medowie.
“The Tomaree campus is bursting at the seams but we’ve got nothing, and we got nothing for Medowie either,” she said.
“Families across Port Stephens have every right to be upset at this failure to invest in our kids.”
The government did announce $700,000 for the NSW Environmental Protection Authority and its perfluorinated chemicals studies.
“My interpretation is that’s for the whole of the state,” Ms Washington said.
“If that’s the case, our share will be ridiculously small.”
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said it was failure on Ms Washington’s behalf.
“Ms Washington is accountable for her commitments to the Port Stephens community. To date her record is negligible. That is not a reflection of the region, it goes to weak advocacy including regular absences from the Chamber.”