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Leaks, advice and airport hitch as NSW Budget nears

June 15, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

As the NSW state budget approaches, next Tuesday 19 June 2018, elements are leaking out and tourism bodies are urging the NSW Government to seize the opportunity and “future-proof the tourism and transport sectors”.

To truly “future-proof” anything entails knowing the future – no easy task – but some of the suggestions make sense.

Firstly, here’s what the leaks say.

  • A new toll motorway to southern Sydney will be built – that has been confirmed – but it could make access to Sydney Airport more difficult. The F6 motorway will be allocated hundreds of millions of dollars, with a four-kilometre twin tunnel running from the New M5 in Arncliffe to an interchange at President Avenue in Kogarah. Critics say Stage 1 of the motorway will make traffic worse along the Grand Parade and General Holmes Drive, the latter being one of the main access roads to Sydney Airport.
  • A drought package worth AUD 600 million in low interest loans, mental health support and kangaroo management are on the cards for the rural sector, according to ABC News. AUD 25 million will be allocated for building new doppler radars for weather monitoring in NSW and AUD 4 million will go to mental health services so farmers can access counselling services.
  • Newcastle is agitating for a terminal upgrade at Newcastle Airport and more focus on transport interchange, multimodal integration and light rail – though it’s unclear whether this will be included in the Budget.

Now for tourism industry demands. Foremost on that front is the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF), which has gone to the extent of lodging an extensive pre-Budget submission, entitled “Future Economy – Future Jobs”.

Sydney Harbour’s Overseas Passenger Terminal. Long-term access to Garden Island is sought for large cruise ships

The NSW Government must seize the opportunity to keep growing the state’s booming visitor economy, the TTF says, with chief executive Margy Osmond proclaiming the need to “future-proof the tourism and transport sectors”.

Osmond said tourism would remain a super-growth industry and the NSW Government must ensure it remained a great place to live and to visit into the future.

“NSW has fought hard in recent years to retain its crown as the nation’s largest visitor economy with strong investment in the sector in the past few budgets,” she said.

“However, with ever-increasing competition from States and Territories who are recognising the importance of tourism to their economies, NSW must not take its position at the top for granted and continue to invest to support the growth of the sector.

Osmond said the Government of Premier Gladys Berejiklian “must maintain funding for Destination NSW to ensure that NSW remains in a prime position to capitalise on the current record levels of domestic and international tourism into the future.”

General Holmes Drive. Traffic likely to worsen

Osmond called for a commitment to fast-track funding and deliver an ironclad timeline for Stage 2 of the Parramatta Light Rail project, linking Camellia to Strathfield via Sydney Olympic Park and to deliver a timeline and funding for the critical Sydney Metro West project.

“Journeys between Sydney Airport and the CBD are often a visitor’s first and last experience of Australia and it is critical that visitors and locals alike can access Sydney Airport in a timely manner.

“To complement recent additional rail services to the CBD, TTF recommends that the NSW Government also increase bus services to the airport to support areas currently without direct rail access.

“Investment in integrated transport options is also vital to support economic growth and to increase visitor numbers across NSW by encouraging greater regional dispersal.

“Increased investment in regional rail and road infrastructure, along with better facilities and more reliable services, will encourage visitors to leave the city and explore some of our world-class regional destinations such as the North Coast, Southern Highlands, Broken Hill and the Blue Mountains.”

Tourism and commuter groups on the NSW South Coast and elsewhere are also calling for rail upgrades. Trains are a smart, eco-friendly option that tourists love, though they are currently overcrowded at peak times. Roads rapidly fill with cars (certain large American cities spring to mind).

Sydney sometimes appears to be bursting at the seams, its population set to reach 5.64 million this month (June 2018). Net overseas migration to Australia last year topped 250,000 people and most new arrivals head for the big cities.

In its pre-Budget submission on regional rail services, TTF Australia says: “Rail journeys from regional areas of NSW to Sydney are unviable for many commuters and visitors. Similarly, inter-city services between Wollongong and Sydney, Newcastle and Sydney and Canberra and Sydney can take longer than a private vehicle trip.

“To support growth in our regions and to encourage regional dispersal within the tourism sector, it is critical that the NSW Government provides greater investment to improve regional rail infrastructure and services.”

Right on!

Other elements of the TTF Australia submission:

  • Invest in tourism infrastructure. Destination marketing needs to be supported by continued investment in nature-based and cultural/heritage infrastructure. According to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) research in 2016, park visitation was estimated at a total of 51.77 million visits, accrued from 42.49 million adult and 9.28 million child visits. This was an increase of 31.3% on 2014 results. It is important that the NSW Government maintains funding for NSW Parks & Wildlife Services to support visitor infrastructure and to promote new visitor experiences.
  • Support NSW cruise shipping. Sydney remains one of the world’s most popular cruising destinations, but port congestion during peak seasons is impacting on future growth of the sector. TTF urges the NSW Government to work with the Australian Government to provide long-term access for large cruise ships to Garden Island and allow for the ability to process passengers through Customs at Garden Island. TTF also encourages the continued development of the NSW Cruise Development Plan which will provide long term certainty around planning and investment for the cruise industry.

Written by Peter Needham

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