The NSW Opposition has pledged to improve the opportunities for areas such as Newcastle to secure state funding.
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and Wollongong MP Paul Scully moved an amendment to the party’s economic policy at Labor’s state conference on Sunday to provide better clarity about state government funding categories.
"In government Labor will create a clear definition of different funding categories for areas outside greater Sydney so communities have a fair chance at accessing and securing government funding,” the amendment said.
We need a consistent approach across the whole of government, not pork barrelling in government seats.Tim Crakanthorp.
The Newcastle Herald reported last month that Newcastle and Lake Macquarie had been cut from the state budget’s ‘regional overview’.
The government considers both cities should be classified as "metropolitan" rather than regional. It argues there are enough funding streams to ensure Newcastle will not miss out on assistance.
However, critics argue that the move was designed to hide a lack of new spending commitments to affected electorates.
While the reclassification means the cities are unable to apply for regional grant funding, they are still eligible to apply for funding from sources including the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund.
Mr Crakanthorp said there was an urgent need for clarity around regional funding.
He cited examples of Newcastle being classified as a regional area for tourism but as metropolitan for arts funding.
“We need a consistent approach across the whole of government, not pork barrelling in government seats,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is this government uses slippery definitions to deny Newcastle and Wollongong much needed funding.”
This year’s state budget papers say $75 million in funding is "committed" through the HIFF fund with another $25 million in the less certain category.
The government has also confirmed that Newcastle and Wollongong's metropolitan status locked both cities out of funding from a new Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, with Deputy Premier John Barilaro promising that "every cent of the full value of the ($4.1-billion) Snowy deal" going to "rural and regional NSW".