Baird Government shortchanging Grafton and regional NSW

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The Baird-Grant Government is shortchanging regional towns like Grafton by failing to fast track plans to lower the wagering tax and not investing more on infrastructure and essential services. 

On his first trip to the North Coast since the recent election, NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley called on the Government to stop ignoring the people of Grafton – who only received 1 per cent of funding in this year’s State Budget.

The Government is implementing a key Labor policy to bring the wagering tax for the state’s racing industry into parity with Victoria – but not for another four years.

Mr Foley’s first commitment as leader was to reduce the tax from $3.22 for every $100 wagered to just $1.28 by 1 January 2016 – bringing NSW into line with Victoria.

Reducing this tax immediately would boost the industry, create an extra 2000 jobs and support the 50,000 people already employed in racing across the state.

Events like the Grafton Cup attract thousands of visitors to Grafton each year, demonstrating the importance of racing to regional tourism.

In a further blow to regional NSW, last week the Government launched a legal appeal against lower power prices which would reduce each household bills by hundreds of dollars each year.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley:

“Country racing is the backbone of the industry in our state, with 55 per cent of the economic benefit from racing generating in regional areas.”

“Earlier this year the Baird-Grant Government hated the idea of lowering wagering tax, labelling it a waste of money. Now they’ve adopted it – but they’re going to make the industry wait four more years.”

“There’s no reason why NSW can’t be the racing capital of Australia, but that’s only going to happen if we bring down the barriers that impede investment in the industry.”

“The Government has delivered what it claims is a record $2 billion surplus – but only 1 per cent of that budget is going to Grafton, with no funding restored to TAFE and no moves to make the jail a mayor employer in the area again.”

“On top of that, Mike Baird launched legal action last week to make NSW families and businesses pay more for power bills.”

“If he wins the court case every household in Grafton will have to pay $313 more and every small business $528 more – another blow to a regional town ignored by Baird and Grant.”