A new Hunter Research Foundation Centre report has laid bare the raw deal Newcastle receives from NSW government funding streams.
The report shows the Newcastle local government area is ineligible to apply for regional funding schemes totalling $5.85 billion and receives only a tiny fraction of what it is due under the Restart NSW fund.
The bulk of the regional money for which Newcastle is ineligible is distributed via the $4.15 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund and $1.6 Regional Growth Fund.
Lake Macquarie and Central Coast LGAs are eligible for these programs.
The HRFC report, prepared for City of Newcastle, says the city should have received an extra $170 million in state government grants in 2019 based on its share of NSW's economic output.
Newcastle is eligible for Restart NSW funding, which totalled $1.6 billion a year ago, but has received only 0.06 per cent of the cash, which amounts to one 35th of its share of the state's population (2.11 per cent) and one 49th of its share of gross state product (2.91 per cent).
Newcastle politicians, especially those of the Labor variety, have long complained the city gets shortchanged. The HRFC report supports their view with economic analysis.
The Coalition argues it has spent considerably more on Newcastle than previous Labor governments by virtue of the light rail line and other Newcastle Urban Renewal Strategy projects, funded in part by the privatisation of the city's port.
The HRFC report, prepared by economists George Pantelopoulos and Dr Anthea Bill, argues "gateway" cities such as Newcastle, Wollongong and Geelong are "underestimated" by public policy and should be grouped in a new "mid-tier" funding classification between regional and metropolitan.
The researchers found key government policy documents "firmly reference Newcastle and Wollongong within the context of regional NSW" yet major regional funding streams "routinely exclude" them.
City of Newcastle included the report in its submission last week to a state parliament Public Accountability Committee inquiry into the integrity, efficacy and value for money of NSW government grant programs.
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes tabled the report at Tuesday night's council meeting with a motion calling on the committee to establish a "consistent geography and classification across all NSW government funding sources that enables equitable access for all LGAs".
The motion noted Newcastle had been "shut out" of all cultural infrastructure grants programs, both metropolitan and regional, including access to money for its long-awaited Newcastle Art Gallery expansion.
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN THE NEWS
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.