RECORD HEALTH BUDGET HELPS REGIONAL FAMILIES

Families in rural and regional NSW will benefit from a record health Budget, with new hospitals and health facilities and thousands more frontline doctors, nurses and other health workers.

The NSW Government will spend a record $26.7 billion in the 2019-20 NSW Budget ($24.0 billion recurrent expenses, $2.7 billion capital expenditure), which will see major improvements to community health services, including dental treatment, preventative measures and health protection services including immunisation and influenza prevention campaigns.

Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard said $2.8 billion is being invested to recruit 8,300 extra frontline staff over the next four years.

Almost half of these staff (45 per cent) will go to the regions. “The NSW Government is committed to building healthy and resilient regional and rural communities,” Mr Hazzard said.

“We are making record investments in health in every corner of the state – building new hospitals, upgrading existing health facilities and expanding community health services.

“When it comes to rural health care, we are continuing our record health infrastructure program – we are focused on getting it done.”

Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronwyn Taylor said providing world-class health care for people in regional NSW is a priority.

“The health and wellbeing of young people in rural and regional NSW will continue to be a focus with the investment of $4.2 million over four years into the school nurse coordinator program, as well as $11 million for Getting on Track In Time – got It! which is a state-wide school based early intervention program to support social and emotional learning for children,” Mrs Taylor said.

“We have also enhanced crisis support services by expanding capacity at Kids Helpline by $5 million to answer an extra 18,400 calls per year. We are also trialing a crisis sms service to reach young people in their language and this is all in addition to the $8.27 million the NSW Government has today announced for drought related mental health initiatives over the next year.”

BUILDING STRONGER, MORE RESILIENT AGRICULTURAL SECTOR

The NSW Government will invest $1.7 billion in the 2019-20 NSW Budget to build stronger, sustainable and productive regional industries across the State, including $355 million to extend critical drought assistance measures for farmers and rural communities.

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall said the cornerstone of the Budget was $170 million for the Drought Stimulus Package and $185 million in on-farm Emergency Drought Relief measures including continuing transport cost rebates and waiving annual land rates, on top of an additional $350 million towards the Farm Innovation Fund, which will provide concessional loans to farmers to improve on-farm infrastructure.

“This drought has been far more prolonged and severe than anyone could ever have imagined and that’s why we’re delivering more than $700 million in the Budget to help our primary producers with on-farm measures through the drought,” Mr Marshall said.

“This Budget supports regional industries and communities with a key aim of assisting farmers during the present drought crisis.”

Primary producers will also benefit from a $3.4 million investment to start the process of extending the Wild Dog Exclusion Fence as well as $24.4 million towards delivering three new Doppler radars in Western NSW.

The extension of the Wild Dog Fence will help prevent wild dogs from entering NSW and disrupting farming operations while the Doppler radars will provide real time rainfall data and wind observations to 34 Local Government areas.

Mr Marshall said the Budget was also focused on strengthening primary industries into the future through research and development partnerships aimed at enhancing the sector’s productivity and profitability.

“We have the very best primary producers here in NSW but I want to ensure we retain our competitive edge when it comes to innovation, profitability and productivity,” Mr Marshall said.

“That’s why the NSW Government will invest more than $15 million to build on partnerships with groups like GRDC, CSIRO and the University of New England to develop new R&D capacity and help keep our primary producers world leading.

“This Budget is all about supporting our primary producers through drought and ensuring they are in a position to bounce back and thrive when it inevitably breaks.”

REGIONAL NSW SET FOR INFRASTRUCTURE TRANSFORMATION

Regional communities and drought-stricken farmers are at the heart of the 2019-20 NSW Budget with the NSW Government expanding emergency drought support measures, increasing funding for regional roads and water security, and investing record amounts in mobile and data connectivity.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said that this Budget commits $355 million for drought assistance, which includes $170 million for a Drought Stimulus Package and $185 million to continue existing on-farm support to boost economic resilience in the face of current severe drought conditions.

Mr Barilaro said today’s Budget delivers on the NSW Government’s regional election commitments, including funding to kick start the 5-year commitments of $500 million to repair and replace worn out wooden bridges, $500 million to repair, maintain and seal local roads, $400 million for regional digital connectivity from the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund and a $100 million boost to the Stronger Country Communities Fund.

“The drought continues to impact farmers, businesses and people living across our regions, and the Budget measures announced today will stimulate local economies, build the infrastructure our regions need and secure town water supply,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The Regional Growth Fund has been topped up to $1.7 billion, allowing the NSW Government to run a further round of the popular Stronger Country Communities Fund.

“Up to half of the $100 million available this year will be dedicated to regional youth infrastructure and programs, focused on building community involvement, wellbeing and getting our young people ready for work.

“This Budget commits Snowy Hydro funds to projects for the first time, meeting our election commitments to deliver digital connectivity where people live and work, improve water security, and establish Special Activation Precincts that attract jobs and investment,” Mr Barilaro said.

Highlights from the 2019-20 Budget for regional NSW include:

  • $170 million to fast track critical water and infrastructure projects.
  • $100 million expansion of the Stronger Country Communities fund.
  • $90 million to boost mobile coverage and internet connectivity.
  • $37.5 million over three years to extend the Wild Dog Fence in Western New South Wales to prevent wild dogs entering the State.
  • $32 million over three years to investigate the feasibility of raising Wyangala Dam wall.
  • $20 million for business cases and technical studies to investigate Special Activation Precincts.
  • $8 million for Country Universities Centres, to establish at least five more regional centres.
  • $3 million for detailed investigation of potential international air freight hub sites that will transport regional NSW produce from paddock to plane to plate, once the current prefeasibility study is complete.

TUCKERMAN URGES PRESCHOOLS TO APPLY FOR CAPITAL WORKS GRANTS

Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman MP is encouraging preschools across the region to apply for the NSW Government’s $4 million Capital Works Grants program, which is now open for applications.

Mrs Tuckerman said this funding is part of the NSW Government’s $42.1 million investment in building new, and expanding existing early childhood services across the State.

“There are more children attending 600 hours of preschool in NSW than ever before,” Mrs Tuckerman said.

“This is why, as a Government, we need to support services to ensure the appropriate infrastructure is in place to accommodate for the growing number of enrolments in preschools.”

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said this round of grants will accommodate for an additional 230 preschool places across the State.

“Through the creation of more preschool places, even more children in NSW will have access to a top-quality early childhood education, which will set them up for life,” Ms Mitchell said.

“This Government knows how important an early childhood education is on a child’s emotional, social and cognitive development, so it is crucial we support services to nurture kids to be the best they can be in the years before school.”

The Start Strong Capital Works Grants program is open to all not-for-profit community preschools in NSW and can be used to build new services, extend or renovate existing services, or respond to crisis situations.

Applications will be open until early August 2019 and can be submitted via SmartyGrants. For more information, visit the Department of Education website.

BIG SAVINGS FOR SENIORS

Hard-working Seniors will soon be able to save hundreds of dollars a year through the NSW Government’s new Seniors Savers Card.

Member for Goulburn, Wendy Tuckerman said all people aged over 60 and working more than 20 hours a week will be eligible to receive discounts at more than 7000 businesses across the state including restaurants, cinema tickets and hairdressers.

“Seniors who choose to stay in the workforce can benefit from the thousands of discounts and services under the NSW Seniors Card Program,” Mrs Tuckerman said.

Previously, only seniors over the age of 60 working less than 20 hours a week were able to access the Seniors Card.

“I know many seniors in our community are feeling the growing pressure of everyday living costs so this new card means they can save money for the things that matter to them”, Mrs Tuckerman said.

Minister for Seniors John Sidoti said the NSW Government recognises and values the contribution seniors make to our society.

“With people working longer and retiring later, fewer are qualifying for a Seniors Card at age 60, so the introduction of this new card means seniors across the state won’t miss out on being part of the savings bonanza,” Minister Sidoti said.

The Seniors Savers Card is one of more than 70 NSW Government rebates and savings available as part of the NSW Government’s Cost of Living initiative.

For more information on the NSW Seniors Card, visit www.seniorscard.nsw.gov.au