‘We got zero. Not a sausage’: Mayor says Geraldton forgotten in Federal Budget 2018

Geoff Vivian and Gavin BoxGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton didn’t even get this, says mayor Shane Van Styn.
Camera IconGeraldton didn’t even get this, says mayor Shane Van Styn. Credit: @perthmunchkin (Instagram)

The City of Greater Geraldton’s mayor says Geraldton was the big loser in this year’s Federal Budget.

“We got zero. Not a sausage,” Mayor Shane Van Styn said.

“All the money for WA got spent down in Perth and a bit down in Bunbury.

“There is no money for hospitals and no money for roads north of the Perth metropolitan area.”

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Mr Van Styn said there were funds the City could apply for but none specific to Geraldton or the Mid West.

He said the City had applied for a $23 million airport upgrade project for which the City and the WA Government had pledged $6.5 million each and sought $10 million in Federal funding.

This was through the Building Better Regions fund, with the winners to be announced in June.

Mr Van Styn said the City also hoped for positive news about an Abrolhos Islands tourism project.

He said the City of Greater Geraldton and the West Australian Government had pledged $11.8 million and had applied to the Commonwealth’s Regional Growth Fund for a further $11.8 million.

This was to fund jetties, an airstrip upgrade, a fast ferry facility at Town Beach, and upgrades to the lighthouse and museum.

City of Greater Geraldton mayor Shane Van Styn.
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton mayor Shane Van Styn. Credit: Geoff Vivian, The Geraldton Guardian

Member for Durack Melissa Price said her government had announced a $2 billion strategic infrastructure fund which could help fund 80 per cent of the Dongara-Northampton Bypass Road, if the WA Government funded the balance.

“This would require the State Government determining that this road was a priority and the City of Greater Geraldton has an advocacy role to play here,” she said.

She said about 8000 people in the City of Greater Geraldton would also qualify for the maximum tax cut of about $500 a year, which would have a flow-on effect for the local economy.

On the matter of funding for the Geraldton Hospital redevelopment, speaking just hours before the State Budget was handed down, Ms Price tried to direct the blame solely at the State Government – and appeared to link the issue of Federal Government funding to State Government funding.

“I am disappointed that the State Government failed to identify the Geraldton Hospital as a funding priority,” she said.

“It was therefore not included in the recent list of hospitals and road projects to be funded by the Federal Government.”

But later, when the State Government announced in its Budget $73.3 million over five years for the hospital project, Ms Price appeared to change tack.

Asked when Geraldton could expect Federal Government funding for the project, she said the Federal Government had lifted health funding to record levels in WA.

“A funding increase of about 31%, or about $3 billion, gives the State a greater opportunity to redirect the Federal health funds, initially set aside for services, and instead put that funding into increased bricks and mortar hospital spending,” she said.

“This gives the State some flexibility in where they put the Federal health dollars and, ultimately, I am pleased they have chosen to honour an election commitment and upgrade the Geraldton Hospital.

“I am however disappointed that substantial work on the hospital will not begin until the year 2021, which is conveniently just before the next State election occurs.”

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