Thursday, March 10, 2011

Newcastle Herald - Premiers & Promises

With the election looming, there has been a fair bit of negative coverage of the current government in terms of its treatment of the Hunter. My house move has made it difficult for me to properly cover this. However, I thought that the Newcastle Herald editorial of 8 March was worth repeating in full.

"Premiers and promises

08 Mar, 2011 04:00 AM

WITH the state election just around the corner, it seems that premier Kristina Keneally has belatedly discovered an interest in the city of Newcastle.

If Labor is re-elected, Ms Keneally has promised, the state government will stump up funds to help the city bid for a bigger sum from the federal government to relocate some university facilities. If re-elected, Labor will also provide $10 million for a paediatric intensive care unit at John Hunter Children's Hospital.

Those are welcome promises, to be sure. They don't compare, however, to the solid $31 million commitment made last week - before the government went into powerless caretaker mode - to the marginal seat of Coogee for improved cancer services. Or the $24.6 million arts and education precinct also nailed down last week for Parramatta, in western Sydney.

With Newcastle cancer patients facing some of the longest treatment delays in the state and with Newcastle's art gallery still begging, after all these years, for help with its long-overdue redevelopment plans, this city could have done with some of that Sydney-bound largesse.

Ms Keneally's new interest in Newcastle evidently isn't intense enough to induce the expenditure of actual money.

And now, to put that reluctance to spend funds outside of Sydney in a little more perspective, the Urban Development Institute of Australia has released a study asserting that the Hunter Region has been shortchanged billions of dollars in infrastructure spending over the past decade.

Echoing a similar study a few years ago by the Hunter Business Chamber, the latest report notes that regional spending in most state portfolios falls well short of the amount that would be expected if expenditure across NSW was proportional to population.

Coal royalties

While the Hunter has about nine per cent of the state's population, its share of infrastructure spending is said to be typically well under half that figure.

One suspects that, if spending on infrastructure that is purely designed to support industries that earn money for the government was to be deducted, the proportion would be even lower.

What aggrieves many Hunter people about this state of affairs is the fact that the region provides a very hefty chunk of revenue to the NSW government, not merely through regular state taxes but also through coal royalties and dividend payments by Hunter-based government trading corporations.

Not only is this contribution to state finances not recognised in the region's share of infrastructure funding, and not only is the actual share apparently parlously low even on a basic per capita basis, but the government appears genuinely reluctant to commit even the small amount it does spend in the Hunter.

It is probably too late for Ms Keneally to benefit from this knowledge, but Hunter people have been growing steadily more resentful at being ripped off by the government in Macquarie Street. Visits and smiles are always pleasant, but real funding equity would be infinitely preferable.

Twenty percent of state government revenue isn't it?, 9 percent of the population and 3 percent of spending..."


I also thought that I might repeat the comments.

"Twenty percent of state government revenue isn't it?, 9 percent of the population and 3 percent of spending...

Posted by fnord, 8/03/2011 12:11:01 PM, on The Herald

Fnord, mate its about 30/10/5

This government has got to go and McKay with it - if she couldn't do anything while she was a minister, she certainly won't have a chance in hell on the opposition benches.

Posted by Wisdom of Australia, 9/03/2011 7:31:10 AM, on The Herald

I applaud those at the Herald for consistantly highlighting these issues. If more people of our region read the Herald and understood these reported issues, I suspect that circumstances here would be very, very different..

Posted by Mark, 9/03/2011 10:17:27 AM, on The Herald

I can't believe in any longer what the Labor is saying. They've had enough time to prove themselves to us and to fulfill their commitments they had given to us during the past election campaigns. Before they expects us to buy their promises, they should first evaluate their past records; they should tell us the commitments which they fulfilled, if there are any. I am fed up with their election campaigns, coming to us just before the elections. Election campaigns should not give them the right to lie and to cheat public. Any candidate who is elected based on their commitments should be questioned for not fulfilling their commitments given during the campaigns. If such an inquiry can't be possible by law, it should be possible by public on ethical grounds if we are a genuine democratic society. Walking away from their promises after securing their seats should not be made that easy.

Posted by FG, 9/03/2011 2:07:18 PM, on The Herald

If the Hunter has been short changed billions in a decade, I'd like to know just what the tally would be since 28th December 1989 (earthquake day).

The investment in Newcastle since that day should have been disproportionately high, not disproportionately low, in order to encourage the city to recover from the one of the most devastating events in NSW or Australian history.

Then there is the dis-investment in Newcastle. Local authorities have been corporatised, asset stripped and jobs & decisions moved to Sydney (Shortland County Council, Hunter Water, Macquarie Generation etc). The Hunter has become a branch office under Sydney rule.

We are beyond the point of begging for a fair share. The time has come to DEMAND secession from NSW.

Posted by Newy, 10/03/2011 1:14:57 PM, on The Herald

No point complaining. It's locked in. That is the way NSW operates.

Sydney expects the infrastructure investment and Newcastle doesn't. It is far easier to put up with Newcastle complaints - it is little more than a bindi in the foot of the capital. However if billions were diverted from projects in Sydney to Newcastle there would be a backlash in the capital that no government could withstand.

I will be opening the batting for Australia in an ashes test at Lords before Newcastle receives a fair share of infrastructure spending from NSW.

Posted by 12th man, 10/03/2011 1:47:36 PM, on The Herald

Newcastle is the small kid that turns up each week but never gets picked in the first eleven. He just keeps hoping that he will eventually be noticed and thrown a cap. Trouble is that Syd is the team captain, star and the coaches kid. He makes all the rep teams, always wins the best and fairest and everyone sucks up to him because he gets the girls. Nobody ever notices the other kid that just keeps plugging away. He should do what Adam Gilchrist did - move interstate. Hard as he tries he will never get noticed with the sky blues.

Posted by six and out, 10/03/2011 2:06:40 PM, on The Herald

Since statistics are mostly compiled along state lines, how is it possible to work out whether and by how much Newcastle & the Hunter is subsidising the capital? It might not be that bad - or it could be a whole lot worse.

It doesn't end there either because NSW complains that it is penalised when it comes to Commonwealth Grants. So the Hunter gets a double penalty. It is short changed by it's state which is in turn short changed by the Commonwealth. Newcastle gets smacked between the eyes for being the second city of the biggest state.

Let's face it - Sydney has no interest in the Hunter being anything but a big coal pit and a massive royalty earner for the capital. How dumb are we?

Posted by big bang theory, 10/03/2011 2:22:44 PM, on The Herald

Big Bang Theory - Check out the ABS website - you can get statistics for just about anything down to suburb level. And as for State government revenue and expentiture - its basically site based and obviously very easy to calculate on a regional level. The stats are out there.

Posted by fnord, 10/03/2011 10:06:08 PM, on The Herald"

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