Hunter Labor politicians have welcomed some of the spending commitments in Tuesday's NSW budget while criticising a lack of money for schools in their electorates.
Cessnock MP Clayton Barr said classrooms in his area were "busting at the seams" while the government was "patting itself on the back" over its $50 million voucher program to fund Friday lunches in Sydney's CBD.
"For goodness sake, surely educating our next generation should be a higher priority than a long lunch," he said.
Mr Barr said a primary school at Cameron Park was "10 years overdue" and not building a K-12 school in the new Huntlee subdivision was "silly".
Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison said Gillieston Heights Public School was long overdue for funding.
"It has only two permanent buildings and is in one of the fastest-growing communities in Maitland with lots of new families moving to the area," she said.
"This is a school which until recent years still had a dirt floor in the boys' toilet block, has accessibility issues and still isn't connected to town sewer."
Shadow Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley said it appeared as though the Hunter had received little money for new social housing.
"Applicants currently face wait times between five to ten years to secure a property. This is simply not good enough," the Swansea MP said.
Ms Catley said the region's schools had been "left behind" and lamented the lack of funding for a permanent dredging solution for Swansea Channel.
Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery said the budget had been "hit and miss" for her electorate.
She said money for the inner-city bypass, M1 extension and John Hunter Hospital funding were welcome but slammed the "paltry" spend of $496,000 on social housing in her seat in 2021-22.
"When we have a list that has over 1200 people waiting for a property and a 10-year wait time, it is beyond comprehension that this government has not invested in building more social housing properties," she said.
She said the bypass money would help start a tender process so construction could begin next year.
Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp welcomed the allocation of $6.7 million on a business case for the Hunter Park sport, entertainment and residential precinct at Broadmeadow.
Cr Nelmes said the project was a "genuine collaboration" between the council and the NSW government.
"It is a significant urban regeneration proposal the size and scale of which has never been seen outside of Sydney," she said.
Mr Crakanthorp said he had lost count of the times he had raised the issue inside and outside Parliament.
"We need to get this precinct right, and now the next stage begins to make sure Newcastle gets the facilities it needs and deserves," he said.
The government's Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Taylor Martin, said the budget included millions in new projects for the region.
"We are investing to keep NSW COVID-safe and to keep our recovery going, investing in the Hunter with more support to help ease the cost-of-living pressures for families and transforming our state with real reform for the future," Mr Martin said.
HUNTER BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS
$5.6m to start Newcastle Education Campus
$3.3m for major upgrades at Muswellbrook South Public School
$2m for design/construction of multi-trades workshop and storage at Scone Connected Learning Centre
$1.9m to start upgrades and refurbishments at Hunter River High
$1.6m to start upgrades and refurbishments at Irrawang High School
$59.1m for new Maitland Hospital and car park ($500m project)
$34.4m for John Hunter Health and Innovation Precinct ($835m project)
$7m to start Muswellbrook Hospital stage three ($45m project)
$5.6m for planning Hunter Park sports and entertainment precinct, Broadmeadow
$24.7m for planning water pipeline between Lostock Dam and Glennies Creek Dam (includes $11.1m from the federal government)
$3.1m ($3.3m over two years) for new and upgraded social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities in Blacksmiths, Bolton Point and Wallsend
$1m ($3m over three years) in grants for residents affected by lead pollution in Boolaroo
$50m for Special Activation Precincts in Williamtown, Moree, and Snowy Mountains
$4.9m for Madoo Museum Cultural Hub in Cessnock ($6.3m project)
$2.5m for new Singleton Police Station ($12m project)
$2m for Newcastle Police Station upgrade ($6.5m project)
$29m to finish planning/early construction Newcastle Inner-City Bypass
$28.1m for planning M1 extension, Raymond Terrace to Hexham
$26.2m to start New England Highway upgrade from Belford to Golden Highway
$25m for Dungog Shire road upgrades
$14.1m for planning/pre-construction Muswellbrook bypass
$14m for planning/pre-construction Singleton Bypass ($700m state and federal project)
$7.5m for Nelson Bay Road upgrades
$5.2m over two years on Testers Hollow, Cessnock Road ($17m state and federal project)
$2.9m ($10.9m over four years) on Hillsborough Road upgrade ($35m stage one)
$2.3m on planning for commuter car parks at Morisset, Fassifern and Cardiff train stations
$12.1m planning and preservation of Lower Hunter Freight Corridor, Hexham to Fassifern
$45m ($298m over four years) on fast rail planning for Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, South Coast, Central West
$345m new Mariyung train fleet serving Sydney, Newcastle, Blue Mountains, South Coast
RESTART NSW FUNDING
$5m for Raymond Terrace Road/Government Road intersection, Thornton
$4.4m for Birubi Point Aboriginal Place tourism transport interchange
$3.6m Cessnock Airport upgrade
Sources: NSW Budget Paper #3, budget "Regional NSW" paper, John Barilaro press release "NSW government delivering safety and stability for the mining sector"
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