Premier shows Lismore $1.5m worth of ‘love’
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made another whirlwind visit to Lismore on Wednesday to settle the nerves of voters but left only promising $1.5 million to revitalise the CBD.
While the government's chequebook has been getting a workout in the Ballina electorate, with more than $100 million in infrastructure funding promised by the Nationals for the region last week alone, Lismore hasn't been given a great deal of financial support recently.
Despite the premier visiting Lismore twice within the last three weeks, once to re-commit to $8.2 million promised by the government back in November last year for flood mitigation and again yesterday to announce $1.5 million to help Lismore City Council to revitalise the CBD, it doesn't seem like any other major infrastructure projects are on the table for this electorate.
The premier also announced an extra $20 million to enable community preschools to build, renovate or extend their facilities, which would create an extra 2300 preschool places across NSW.
Ms Berejiklian said her government is committed to supporting the Lismore electorate by building a new hospital, which is currently in the third stage of the $312 million hospital redevelopment project.
"We've invested massively in this community, I'm incredibly proud of our investments," she said.
"To get a brand new hospital is pretty good.
"I just love this area and every time I come to Lismore and the Northern Rivers, I get a huge boost because I think one of the first visits I made to regional NSW was to inspect the new hospital at Lismore."
With less than two weeks to go until the March 23 election, Ms Berejiklian said she wanted voters to have confidence in the government to continue delivering from the regions.
"Since the first weeks I've been premier I've made regular visits to this region, I love it," she said.
"This is a strong message I want to send to the community of Lismore. I don't just turn up when there's a flood. I turn up in good times and tough times, because as premier my job is to deliver to community all the time.
"Our heart and soul is in our regions."
The Northern Star checked its records, and it seems since she became premier in January 2017, Ms Berejiklian has visited Lismore at least four times, two of which were in the past month during the election.
Recent polling suggests the Nationals are facing a big challenge in retaining the seat of Lismore, as current MP Thomas George gets ready to retire after 20-years.
ABC's political analyst Anthony Green has even placed Lismore at the top of the list of electorates to watch whether the government can retain power in those marginal seats.
Meanwhile, Lismore City Council Mayor Isaac Smith welcomed the CBD revitalisation funding promise and hoped it would allow council to bounce back after announcing this month its budget was $6 million in deficit.
The council this week deferred its decision to put on hold or cancel a total of 33 projects, including revitalising the CBD.
"There may be some opportunities to use some of this money towards some of those plans and projects but that's for council to decide in the near future," Cr Smith said.
"People need to understand that council's job is to look after the public spaces, so when you come into our main street council controls what happens outside those business doors.
"For us it's about making those streets safe, making them accessible, making them exciting and fun and really leveraging off what our great small businesses and local events.
"We're working really closely with the Lismore Chamber of Commerce, we've been lowering CBD rates and we're going to be put some projects in place in the coming year with this $1.5 million to make sure our CBD turns around and heads in a good direction."
Meanwhile, County Labor last month also promised to deliver $1.2 million to help revitalise the Lismore CBD.