The Albanese Government has cut 30 million dollars from New England road funding as part of their ‘budget savings’ measures.
The cut was first revealed in Senate Estimates hearings under questioning from National Party Senator Bridget McKenzie, and has been confirmed by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts to the New England Times.
The Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) program provides block funding to help connect regional businesses to local and international markets, and better connect regional communities. The initiative provides $545m in funding to NSW roads over the next ten years.
The funding for the Tenterfield to Newcastle corridor, which is basically the New England Highway and connecting roads, had $30m cut in the October budget, according to the Department. They said the former Coalition Government committed an additional $30 million to the Tenterfield to Newcastle corridor at the May 2022-23 Budget, however this was reallocated by the Labor Government at the October 2022-23 Budget.
A spokesperson from the office of Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said he is extremely concerned by the news.
“Following the statement from the Department of Infrastructure Mr Joyce is extremely concerned ROSI funding has been taken away from the Tenterfield to Newcastle corridor, we are now seeking urgent clarification from Infrastructure Minister Catherine King to get to the bottom of the matter.”
The six specific projects funded under the ROSI program in the Tenterfield to Newcastle corridor include the Bald Nob Road upgrade, Sunnyside Platform Road upgrade, Goonoo Goonoo Road Duplication, Sandy Hollow Rest Area upgrade, Rocky Cut Realignment, and priority intersection upgrades for the New England Highway including at Willow Tree, Glennies Creek Road, and Segenhoe Road.
The funding cut does not affect any planned roadworks, but is rather a cut to the overall funding block available to the Tenterfield to Newcastle Corridor. A similar cut was made to the Toowoomba to Seymour corridor that passes to the west of the New England region.
The ROSI funding for the corridor is now $95 million plus $44 million unallocated funds for further works. The Toowoomba to Seymour corridor is now $199.5 million plus $4.9 million unallocated funds. The NSW Government is contributing a total of $47.5 million and relevant local councils contributing a further $21.1 million to both corridors for in planning and under construction projects.