Local Federal MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, today called on the government to make the Illawarra a priority for infrastructure funding in the Federal Budget on 6 October.

The Prime Minister’s visit yesterday contained not one single direct announcement for funding for the Illawarra.  Nothing for desperately needed social housing, nothing for local transport infrastructure to connect our Port to south-western Sydney and nothing for our tourist industry as they struggle to recover from COVID-19.

The Illawarra is desperately in need of infrastructure and investment to create local jobs.  Reports of hardship from local business, local charities and local homeless shelters are of great concern and not one visit by the Prime Minister or the Treasurer have produced any local commitments.  

This contrasts with Labor’s approach to the recovery from the Global Financial Crisis while in Government with Labor investing nearly $1 billion in Cunningham and Whitlam. 

This included $85 million in social housing for the disadvantaged and homeless, building the $12 million Illawarra Cancer Care Centre, investing $114 million in school infrastructure in Cunningham and $83 million in Whitlam, investing over $140 million in infrastructure at the University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra, investing in projects such our Blue Mile, North Beach Bather’s Pavillion and Symbio Wildlife Park and investing almost $70 million in the Maldon-Dombarton Rail Link, the Picton Road and Mount Ousley.  These projects kept people in jobs, apprentices in training and boosted our local economy.

Sharon Bird said that the Prime Minister has again used the Steelworks as a backdrop for national announcements and failed the Illawarra.

 “During his last visit to help save Ann Sudmalis from the infighting within the Liberal Party, the Prime Minister failed to invest in one single local project. 

“Now he’s done it again, another visit using the Steel Works as a backdrop instead of investing in our region.  At least this time the Liberal’s didn’t try and use Jimmy Barnes’ song to promote themselves.

Stephen Jones said the first, second and third priority has to be creating local jobs. Not in 10 years time but today. We are encouraging the Government to invest money in ways that creates new jobs while fixing long standing problems – home building for the 1000 locals who don’t have one, fixing the crisis in aged care and boosting apprentice places. In the 1980’s Bob Hawke put in place a steel industry plan and a regional recovery plan. We need the 2020 version of that.”

“We also need to make sure that funding programs aren’t used to pork barrel Government electorates like they did with Sports Rorts. A fair process with funding allocated to every region is critical.

The Illawarra has a number of shovel-ready projects - the Prime Minister just needs to step up and stop using us as a backdrop and start backing us instead.