What's in the state budget for residents of the Northern Tablelands?

The state government handed down its final budget before next year’s election on Tuesday, which moved the spotlight from infrastructure to people and revealed a surplus of $3.9 billion.

The electorate will benefit from a number of key announcements including a pledge of nearly $200 million to give every three or four year-old child in state the opportunity to access early education, and the tax-free threshold for payroll tax jumping from $750,000 to $850,000.

 “This budget has also delivered the payroll tax relief businesses have been crying out for and a $200 million dollar investment in preschool funding for three-year-olds,” Mr Marshall said.

“Schools around the state will get much needed air-conditioning infrastructure and the drought package was also extended.”

Earlier in the week, a new $285 million skills and training package was announced which will see 100,000 free apprenticeships will be offered to newly enrolled apprentices in any course as of July 1.

HEALTH: Paramedics, hospitals and community services

  • A record $8 billion investment in health infrastructure over four years to continue the major capital program to provide new facilities, upgrades and redevelopments including $60 million for Inverell Hospital.
  • An additional 200 paramedics and 13 call centre staff in 2018/19 to improve response times, reduce paramedic fatigue and support safety.
  • A record $2.1 billion for mental health services including $82.5 million for increased admitted and community-based services across NSW.

RURAL: Drought assistance, projects and research stations

  • Almost $600 million for drought-affected farmers including covering low-interest loans, mental health support and kangaroo management.
  • An $44 million investment in Restart NSW for the Northern Tablelands, including water supply projects at Biniguy, Ashley, Moree and Bundarra.
  • Glen Innes receives $2.1 million to upgrade the town’s DPI Agricultural Research Station.

EDUCATION: Schools, childcare and airconditioning

  • Nearly $200 million over four years to extend the Start Strong program, and in an Australian state first will include three-year olds.
  • In the next five years $500 million will provide cooling for schools through the installation of reverse cycle air conditioning.
  • Armidale Secondary College will have $65 million to demolish Duval and Armidale high schools and start building of the state-of-art 1500 student school. 

ROADS: Investment of $60 million for electorate’s roads

  • $26.7 million to commence construction of the Newell Highway heavy duty pavement upgrade between Mungle Back Creek and Boggabilla;
  • $10 million for major safety improvements, including audio-tactile line marking and shoulder sealing, on New England Highway between Uralla and Armidale;
  • $1.28 million for heavy duty pavement on Newell Highway, north of Moree;
  • $1.55 million for pavement repair on Waterfall Way near Wollomombi and Metz (east of Armidale);
  • $3.5 million to seal first section of Main Road 507 (Carrigan Road) between Boomi and Mungindi;
  • $4.62 million dollars for pavement repair on New England Highway at Tutts Gully, University Farm, Guyra,south of Armidale and Stonehenge, south of Glen Innes;
  • $743,000 for draining improvements on Gwydir Highway at Gibraltar Range, east of Glen Innes;
  •  $950,000 for pavement repair on Gwydir Highway near Inverell;
  • $2.5 million for Newell Highway overtaking lanes in Moree Plains Shire;
  • $59,000 for the upgrade of Heber and Auburn Streets intersection in Moree.

COMMUNITY AND FAMILY: Police station, PCYC makeovers and rebates

  • As part of a $39.2 million place to replace and refurbish Police Citizens Youth Clubs (PCYCs), the facility at Moree will undergo a makeover.
  • Inverell police station will be demolished and a new $8.5 million 24-hour station.
  • An investment of $5 million to upgrade Aboriginal Housing in Moree and across the Northern Tablelands.
  • Nearly $1.7 million to upgrade social housing across the Northern Tablelands electorate.
  • The new Creative Kids Rebate to provide families with a $100 voucher per school aged child, for extra curricular activities including music, drama, visual and performing arts, coding and language classes. This complements the existing Active Kids $100 Rebate, announced in last year’s budget. 
  • All new mothers will also receive a $150 ‘baby bundle’ hamper of products  which will include nappies, a baby sleeping bag and a book.
  • $626,000 to provide community transport and support to aged people and those with disabilities in Uralla Shire.
This story What’s on offer for the Northern Tablelands in the state budget? first appeared on The Armidale Express.