NSW Labor has called on the State Government to prioritise local workers and local suppliers for projects being fast tracked as part of the COVID-19 stimulus measures.
With the Government promising to fast-track the planning approvals for the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation’s ‘Cockle Creek’ project, Stage 1A of the University of Newcastle Honeysuckle Campus development and the Honeysuckle Horizon mixed use development, local Labor MPs have demanded assurances from Gladys Berejiklian that the economic benefit of these projects will actually stay in the local economy.
“The NSW Liberals track record on using taxpayer funds to support local jobs is astonishingly poor,” Labor’s Deputy Leader Yasmin Catley said.
“Last week, the NSW Liberal Government announced a “pop up school” in Western Sydney that was actually built in Victoria and trucked in. It’s utter madness,” she added.
To short-circuit this practice, Labor will introduce legislation to Parliament to boost NSW jobs by ensuring local workers and businesses are given priority on major projects including roads, bridges, schools and hospitals.
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said that workers and businesses from Newcastle and the Hunter should be given priority at every stage of the fast tracked projects and demanded that local content should be a condition of approval under the fast-tracking arrangements.
“Every year the NSW Government spends over $34 billion on taxpayer-funded contracts but all too often this money goes interstate or overseas because they refuse to make any effort to keep that money here in the local economy,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
“The Government must guarantee it creates jobs locally. Newcastle workers and businesses should provide design expertise, products and services for these fast tracked projects from day one,” Mr Crakanthorp added.
With unemployment hitting record highs and regional economies hit hard by tourism and hospitality downturns, a series of major construction projects in the Hunter could improve the fortunes of workers and small business across the region, but only if the Government takes deliberate steps to make local economic benefits a condition of approval under the fast-track process.
“This is an opportunity to create desperately-needed jobs during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. If the Government wants to fast-track these developments, it must guarantee the benefit to our local economy, not just make bold claims about job creation that can never actually be tested,” Ms Catley said.