Time for Wollongong to join boom

The Illawarra Business Chamber (IBC) has today called on the next state government to direct greater public funding to improve the key infrastructure of the region’s economic capital of Wollongong.

When the coalition government was elected in 2011 it embarked on an unprecedented and long-awaited process of asset recycling that was strongly supported by the IBC.

The lease of the state’s electricity assets and ports, together with the sale of the Land and Property Information service and our share of the Snowy River Hydro Scheme to the Commonwealth has yielded some $37.3 billion in revenue to the government that is driving $87 billion worth of infrastructure investment across NSW over the next four years.

However this pipeline does not currently include any planned improvements within the Wollongong local government area, the capital of the $21.5 billion Illawarra economy.

While the Restart Illawarra Fund saw $64.3 million invested in Wollongong, and other investments totalling and additional $18.3 million have been made out of the ‘Resources for Regions’ fund and a per capita split of committed state-wide expenditure, this is represents an unacceptably low proportion of investment according to Adam Zarth, Executive Director of the IBC.

“Whomever forms government in the days or weeks following Saturday’s state election needs to address a clear lack of investment in Wollongong’s economic infrastructure that has occurred during a period of massive expenditure elsewhere,” said Mr Zarth.

“To have received something in the order of 0.22 percent of the total revenue from the lease or sale of public assets is unacceptable for a city that already suffers from a lack of freight rail connectivity and major roads that are rapidly approaching capacity,”

“This is not about equity – it is about the risk to the state economy that this underinvestment poses. Wollongong is the economic hub of our region and contains economic infrastructure that supports the rest of southern NSW, including Port Kembla.”

“It was gratifying to hear both major parties concede that more needs to be done to drive government investment in Wollongong’s infrastructure – and I am looking forward to working with whichever side wins to identify projects based on evidence and a sound business case.”

Authorised by C. Lamont, NSW Business Chamber, 140 Arthur Street, North Sydney NSW 2060

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