Port funding anger in Wollongong

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbury is angry at the level of funding committed to infrastructure in the Illawarra after the privatisation of Port Kembla, and is demanding answers from the NSW government.

He moved a motion on Monday night that will see council write to the state government to express its concerns over the way the proceeds from the lease have been distributed.

$100 million from the $760 million deal is to be shared across five local government areas for infrastructure projects, The Illawarra Mercury reported.

However, Bradbury said this shows a huge disparity to Newcastle who have been promised

$340 million, or half of the proceeds from the lease of its port, which will be spent on revitalising the CBD.

Bradbury is seeking an urgent meeting with NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Treasurer Mike Baird to seek a similar level of funding.

‘‘This is a slap in the face of the greatest order,’’ he said.

‘‘From my perspective it’s something we need to be cohesive on as a council.’’

The proceeds from the leasing of Newcastle Port is in addition to $120 million committed to Newcastle's revitalisation and takes the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund to $690 million.

Keira MP Ryan Park said Illawarra residents were being treated like "second class citizens".

"I am gobsmacked that they would make an announcement that separates two cities that are very similar in economic conditions and are going through similar economic challenges by such a huge amount of money," he said.

"We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars of difference for the sale of similar assets, and that is simply a disgrace."

"We've got to remember that this money [from Port Kembla] is going to be spread from one end of the region to the other and all the way out west to Picton and beyond," he said.

"Newcastle's money is concentrated in and around where their asset was, which always should have been the case in Port Kembla.

"I have never seen a government treat two communities – which are very similar in their economic challenges and in the types of forecasts they face – so very differently when it comes to funding of infrastructure."

In another blow for Wollongong, the government delivered just one fifth of its promised $100 million in the recent budget.

Park said this would lead to delays in getting vital Illawarra projects up and running.

"This flies in the face of what the Minister for the Illawarra – who is off duty – said a few weeks ago," Park said.

"He categorically said that these projects would be up and running and at least commenced by the end of this year."

A NSW Treasury spokesman said the government had not allocated the total $100 million next year because a consultation process on how to spend the money was under way

He said the money would be delivered in the future.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward said Labor MPs were "misrepresenting the situation" relating to the sale of Newcastle's port, because the Illawarra had received $270 million from the long-term lease of Port Kembla.

He said $170 million set aside to build the Berry Bypass was also part of the region's allocation.

"When we went to tender for [Port Kembla] we expected to gain $500 million and before we even went to tender we made it clear we would return $100 million for a new infrastructure fund and $170 million for the Princes Highway," Ward said.

He said the Illawarra had received roads and infrastructure funding from past Labor governments and this was why the $100 million needed to be spread across the whole region rather than being concentrated as it was in Newcastle.

"I make absolutely no apology for the fact that I lobbied exceptionally hard to ensure that not only did the port return an upgrade to the Princes Highway … but that $100 million went to suburbs like Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven," he said.

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