Disaster-hit regions get billions in NSW budget
The NSW budget has splashed funding on flood and fire recovery to help prepare for future natural disasters and repair damaged roadways.
Disaster recovery and resilience is at the heart of regional spending in the NSW budget, which also includes funding for new and upgraded schools, hospitals and roads.
Around $4 billion will be spent on recovery programs in communities still dealing with the fallout of recent fires and floods in a budget handed down by Treasurer Daniel Mookhey on Tuesday.
More than $700 million will be spent to rebuild and upgrade roads that make up vital arteries in the regions as part of the disaster-resilience package.
Mr Mookhey said much of the disaster and road repair funding had been front-loaded to be spent over the next financial year.
"The whole point is you repair your roof while the sun's shining and that's what we're trying to do," he said.
Under the road building plan, a Regional Emergency Road Repair Fund will deliver an additional $390 million for councils to direct for urgent road and pothole repairs, taking total spending to $670 million.
Additionally, the $334 million Regional Roads Fund will allow councils to build new roads and roundabouts, replace or repair old bridges and improve safety at crash blackspots.
A large chunk of the disaster-recovery spending will be directed to communities in the state's north that were affected by the 2021-22 floods, including ongoing relocation programs in Lismore.
The NSW Reconstruction Authority will also deploy $121 million to help prepare for future disasters with extreme weather events expected to become more likely.
NSW has declared more than 60 natural disasters since 2019, costing the state $5 billion including from the 20,000 homes damaged in 2022 alone.
The budget includes $3.8 billion for new and upgraded regional hospitals, with $538 million for the Albury-Wodonga hospital, $260 million for the Eurobodalla Regional Hospital redevelopment and $200 million for the Bathurst Hospital redevelopment.
To help staff the new facilities, incentive payments for healthcare workers moving to regional and remote areas will be doubled to $20,000.
An additional 500 paramedics will be added to rural and regional rosters, funded by $438.6 million over the next over four years.
Nationals leader Dugald Saunders said many of the hospitals included in the budget figures had already been announced and in some cases were nearing completion.
He described the government's regional health commitments as "very disingenuous".
A previously announced delivery of new trains across regional services will cost an estimated $1.4 billion, in addition to $95.9 million to be spent upgrading country rail lines and a further $333.9 million for replacing ageing timber bridges.
In the next four years, $1.4 billion has been allocated to build 19 new schools and upgrade 35 existing schools across regional NSW.
More than 7000 temporary teachers and support staff will also be made permanent in regional schools.
Businesses and infrastructure projects will benefit from the $350 million Regional Development Trust Fund and $250 million Working Regions Fund.
A further $217.5 million will be spent to help regional towns deal with water supply and quality issues.