Many seek a cut of Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund

An artist’s impression of the proposed Glendale interchange.


THE Glendale transport interchange had already received $15million from the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund and might not get any more, fund chairman Peter Blackmore said yesterday.

Mr Blackmore, who is mayor of Maitland and a former Liberal state MP, said the fund’s board welcomed the extra $100million it received in Tuesday’s budget.

But it was too early to say whether the board would call for a fresh round of funding applications because it still had to go through earlier applications received in a call for projects in 2012.

It had spent $332million of its initial $350million application on 27 projects, the most recent being $5.3million of the $20million upgrade of Hunter Sports High School at Gateshead.

Tuesday’s budget revived speculation over the future of the Glendale interchange, which is effectively the region’s most-wanted project after confirmation the ‘‘missing link’’ of the Newcastle inner-city bypass would be funded at an estimated cost of $150million.

Mr Blackmore said Glendale had received $15million from the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund, $5.45million from Canberra and $10million from Lake Macquarie City Council, which was effectively the project’s proponent.

While he was not ruling out further funding for the interchange, he said there were other sources of government money the council could apply to, and he stressed the fund’s desire to see money spread widely across the region.

The bulk of the fund’s 27 allocations had benefited the Lower Hunter with Great Lakes, Gloucester and the Upper Hunter having no projects funded, Dungog and Singleton one each, and Muswellbrook three.

Lake Macquarie MP and former mayor Greg Piper said the interchange would drive development to the degree that ‘‘Glendale could one day eclipse Charlestown as the region’s major commercial and retail centre’’.

‘‘All the elements for a major residential and commercial centre are in place,’’ Mr Piper said.

‘‘We just need the road and rail infrastructure to connect the dots.’’

A spokesperson for Lake Macquarie council said yesterday that ‘‘stage one, section one’’ roadworks on the Glendale side were ‘‘primarily funded’’ with work due to start next year.

The ‘‘stage one, section two’’ roadworks to extend Pennant Street, Cardiff, over the railway line to the Glendale side were ‘‘partly funded’’, with the timetable dependent on further funding.

The spokesperson said there was no funding for ‘‘stage two’’, which was the transport interchange and railway station.

She said Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation had almost finished designing the interchange and environmental documents were due to go on display from August 4.

Lake councillors were briefed on the project on Monday and the Newcastle Herald understands Roads and Maritime Services is about to buy at least seven houses to resume the roadworks.


WHEN the Treasurer, Andrew Constance, announced his budget on Tuesday, he said the bottom line was a deficit of $283million, moving to a surplus in 2015-16 of $660million.

Those figures are correct, of course, but as another set of tables at the back of the main budget statement make clear, there are other measures of the state’s finances that are not so flattering.

Here, in a section titled ‘‘uniform financial reporting’’, another set of accounts are tabled in such a way to ‘‘allow consistent comparisons between the financial positions of Australian governments’’.

Here, the government says it uses a measure endorsed by the Australian Accounting Standards Board ‘‘as its headline cash result’’.

This measure gives us a deficit of $3billion, improving to a deficit of $621million in 2015-16 and moving into surplus after that.

But these figures relate only to the ‘‘general government sector’’ and leave out another 40 government organisations and agencies, including NSW Trains, Railcorp and the privatisation target Transgrid as just a few examples.

As a group, these 40 organisations are solidly in the red, with a deficit of $2.7billion in 2014-15, $3.4billion in 2015-16 and $3.9billion in 2016-17.

Add the two sectors together to get what’s known as the ‘‘non-financial public sector’’ and you have a deficit of $5.7billion in 2014-15, which is somewhat bigger than the $283million deficit the government presents to the public.

While the overall figures do improve, the forecast is still for a deficits of $4billion, $3.4billion and $1.1billion.

On one hand, it’s nothing new. Labor did the same. But it’s worth remembering that there is more to the budget than the bells and whistles in the glossy brochures, and that the devil, as always, is in the detail.

For those interested, chapter 10 of budget paper two – available online – has all the detail.

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