NSW auditor general report shows infrastructure spending shortfall in regional NSW

The NSWopposition has criticised the stategovernment for failing to reach its30 per cent benchmark for infrastructure spending in regional areas in relation tomoneyfrom the Restart NSW Fund.

But the government says the 30 per cent target applies to the life of the fund and isn’t an annual benchmark.

An auditor general report on the state’s finances released last week showed spending on regional infrastructure was 17.2 per cent for the 2017/18 financial year, up from 14 per cent the previous 12 months.

The report indicated18.5 per cent of Restart NSW Fund money was spent on infrastructure in regional areas in the six years to June 30, 2018.

The findinghas prompted a scathing response from Muswellbrook mayor and Country Labor’s state election candidate for the Upper Hunter Martin Rush, who said the resultwas“a cruel joke” by the government.

“Every year they say they are going to deliver and every year they string the community along,” he said.

“Now we learn that the Liberals and Nationals have blown $122 million on the sale of the Snowy Hydro – money that could have been spent on schools, hospitals and roads.”

The opposition has promised to funnel all of its share of the Snowy Hydro money to regional NSW if elected next year.

When asked about the criticism, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said: “The 30 per cent target is to be met over the life of Restart NSW and is not an annual target.”

Shadow treasurer Ryan Park said the Upper Hunter and other regional areas were being neglected while the government focused on Sydney-centric projects.

“Despite big promises to help out regional areas, the Berejiklian-Barilaro government just can’t seem to hit that magic 30 per cent for investment in their infrastructure,” he said.

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