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Right direction but more work to do for O’Farrell Government


Release Date: 20/03/2013


The O’Farrell Government has made a good start on its reform agenda to improve the efficiency and quality of government services. But there is still more to do over the remainder of this Parliamentary term to help stimulate jobs and business activity in the Illawarra.
 
“The mid-point of the O’Farrell Government’s first term is an opportunity to reflect on the performance of the NSW Government so far and focus on what needs to be done before the next election in 2015,” said Mr Mike Halloran, Interim CEO of the Illawarra Business Chamber.

“It is hard to judge any new government after only two years in office. Much of this time is usually taken up with information gathering, planning and making institutional changes. Certainly the development of the State Infrastructure Strategy and Long term Transport Master Plan, and an overhaul of the NSW Planning System are all positive steps to improve the delivery of infrastructure and reduce the inefficiencies in the planning system. We just need to wait to see the benefits of this work flow through to the real economy.

“Despite this relatively short period in office, local businesses have clearly benefited from state-wide programs such as the changes to the workers compensation system, which prevented a $750 million increase in insurance premiums and protected 12,600 jobs. Other positive initiatives include the appointment of a Small Business Commissioner, reducing the cost of red tape by an estimated $233 million and maintained the State’s AAA credit rating that keeps interest repayments under control.

“In terms of Illawarra-specific initiatives, the Illawarra and South Coast Regional Action Plan was only released in December 2012, so it’s too early to judge its overall success. The Action Plan outlines a range of plans and projects that have either been completed or are underway and due to finish by late 2014. This includes the establishment of a Tier III Data Centre in Wollongong and the on-going upgrades to the Princes Highway.

“Looking to the remainder of the term, there are a couple of areas where we would like to see some additional attention from the NSW Government.

These include:

  • Clarifying how the $100 million from the lease of the Port of Port Kembla will be spent and delivery timetables for associated infrastructure construction.
  • Delivering the mainline acceleration program, to speed up rail travel between Sydney and Wollongong.
  • Developing and delivering region specific plans, such as the Illawarra Regional Transport Plan and Illawarra Regional Plan.
  • Improving the payroll tax rebate system to remove the excessive red tape that current plagues this policy and is limiting take-up o the scheme.
  • Reforming Post-Year 10 education for students not seeking to attend University after school.
  • Delivering on future red tape objectives, including achieving the $750 million cost saving target.

“The IBC would welcome an increased focus on working with the Illawarra as a single region. Many of the NSW Government’s regional growth initiatives exclude Wollongong LGA residents and businesses, or treat them part of the Sydney-basin. This makes co-ordinating funding applications and accessing programs as a region difficult and has created distortions within the Illawarra economy.

“We are also looking forward to working with the NSW Government on regional planning issues, including developing a new Illawarra Regional Strategy and an Illawarra Regional Transport Plan. We would like to see key regional infrastructure moved up the NSW Government’s priority list and built quicker than current planning timeframes imply.

“This focus includes projects that make better use of existing infrastructure, such as shortening the rail travel time to Sydney, and building new infrastructure, such as the Maldon-Dombarton freight line and the F6 link to the Sydney Orbital network,” concluded Mr Halloran.




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