Sunday, May 26, 2024

Western Sydney councils call for fair go on social infrastructure funding

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has called on both the State’s new Labor Government and the Opposition to address what is claims is a $6 billion social infrastructure funding shortfall impacting the region’s most vulnerable.

“State government funding for local councils has long been insufficient to deliver the infrastructure and services that communities need,” said WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert.

“This is particularly true in Greater Western Sydney where high population growth areas mingle with suburbs that have a long history of inadequate funding for the facilities, spaces, and services essential to support a decent quality of life and the wellbeing of our communities.”

“Lately, the NSW Government has been trumpeting how its $2 billion WestInvest funding to local councils and community organisations – sourced from the proceeds of the WestConnex motorway lease – will deliver improved or additional social infrastructure but has conveniently omitted to mention that another $5.5 billion of projects identified through that same process will not receive any funding.

“Meanwhile, NSW Government planning decisions and Commonwealth Government ineptitude have handed huge windfall profits to landowners and developers.

“Our chief priority is support for our existing and future communities, not billionaire landowners and developers,” said Councillor Calvert.

He said local councils have been struggling to keep up with rising costs with severely strained budgets, compounded by additional funding needs created by recent natural disasters.

“Councils rely on rates, grants and developer contributions to fund infrastructure and services to the community, but all of these come under the control of the State Government”.  

“The state government sets restrictions on what Councils can charge or levy for, and what they can spend on community facilities – but there seems to be no limit on the profits big developers can accumulate at the expense of communities.”

“It beggars belief that NSW still does not have a fair system for ensuring that some of the windfall profits not only from rezoning land but also from the investment of public funds into infrastructure such as airports, roads, rail, hospitals and schools that also contribute to higher value for land ends up in community facilities – and not the bank accounts of billionaire landowners and developers,” said Councillor Calvert.

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