Fair Funding for Our Region’s Infrastructure

 

The Northern Rivers region is one the most popular tourist destination in regional New South Wales, with 5.6 million overnight domestic visitors compared to Sydney's 10.7 million overnight domestic visitors. The resident population of the Northern Rivers is 296,531 whereas Sydney’s is 4,840,628.  We have only 6% of Sydney’s population, but our infrastructure must cope with one and a half times the number of tourists theirs does. Funding calculations are based on resident population resulting in services that are unable to meet the actual demands of visitors - both local and from overseas.

This has created immense pressure not only on the Northern Rivers’ public services but on the region’s infrastructure. The impact of so many visitors using the Northern Rivers services without adding to the local tax base means that much of our infrastructure is stretched beyond capacity.

While Sydney-centric government is happy to reap the benefits of tourism across Northern Rivers, with the increased GST revenue from tourism, there isn’t the same enthusiasm to invest in infrastructure or public services across regional NSW.

We need fair, needs-based funding to regional NSW so that Northern Rivers can provide quality services both locals and visitors can use. Locals and visitors have to use beat up roads; if they get sick they will have to use overcrowded hospitals; if they need police, they’ll be lucky if one can promptly attend to their concerns.

Our plan for fair funding for our communities;

  • Funding Catch Up
  • Fill the potholes
  • Pausing Overdevelopment

 

Funding Catch Up

The Northern Rivers is underfunded for services, considering the high number of visitors we get, compared to our small population base. The Greens recognize the unfairness in expecting communities like ours in bearing the social and economic costs of millions of visitors, without giving us the support and help that we need. To assist regional communities to bridge the funding gap, we will boost the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, through funding from a combination of GST and other state tax rebates to ensure that regions are funded to meet needs. The objective is for a more balanced system of funding so that local communities with high infrastructure and public service needs that don’t have a population base to support them can still receive high-quality public services and infrastructure.

In the long-term, we will implement a comprehensive funding review. We will end the political game of pork-barrel funding and ensure that regions get a consistent funding basis. This funding review will establish a consistent level of funding for regions, so that we can adequately plan for our needs - taking into account holistic factors such as tourist numbers, local populations and future infrastructure needs.

 

Our plan will:

  • Boost the Regional Tourism Infrastructure fund
  • Initiate a long-term review of funding streams to ensure sustainable long term planning

 

Fill the potholes

The roads in Northern Rivers are in pressing need of repair, with $154 million worth of repairs needed to bring them up to scratch. Unfortunately, the New South Wales government has consistently shifted costs to local communities, which are too under-resourced to deal with the problem. The impact of roads in disrepair creates safety risks for the community as well as increasing road maintenance costs until the streets are safe again.

The Greens are committed to listening to the needs of our community by fixing the backlog in our old roads. We are demanding a funding boost that will deliver an extra $195M into road maintenance across Northern Rivers. This will translate to $70 million in funding for Byron Shire, $65 million for Lismore, $42 million for Kyogle Shire, $10 million for Ballina Shire and $8 million for Tweed Shire.

 

Our plan will:

  • Invest $195 million into road maintenance across Northern Rivers
  • Increase road safety
  • Improve emissions efficiency

 

Pausing overdevelopment

There is so much pressure on Byron right now: we’ve got a Butler Street bypass about to start that is unlikely to be a game changer for traffic congestion on Ewingsdale Road but will involve massive road works, a massive transport hub being foisted on us by Transport NSW that has had no community consultation and which will also involve massive road works. Holiday letting regulation uncertainty and medium density low-rise residential  ‘Manor Houses’ that could triple housing development overnight across the Shire.

Other councils like the Ryde Council secured a temporary pause on overdevelopment to allow infrastructure to catch up. We're calling for the same in communities like Byron Bay. We will work with the community to develop locally appropriate solutions to the problem of overdevelopment and implement community-led responses.

Our plan will:

  • Allow infrastructure to catch up
  • Prevent overdevelopment
  • Work with Byron and Ballina council around medium density, when and if that rule comes in we decide where if anywhere that would be appropriate, never agree to private certification and non-public exhibition.