NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell Trevor Veale

Relocation scheme "a dud"

THE O'Farrell Government's regional relocation grants scheme is proving to be a massive dud with only 696 of the 10,000 grants forecast by Treasury issued to people moving to regional areas.

According to the opposition this is despite the O'Farrell Government spending $1 million on a failed advertising campaign for the regional relocation grants earlier this year.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said roughly one third of all grants issued (210) have paid people to leave the Illawarra, Central Coast, Newcastle and the Blue Mountains.

"The O'Farrell Government's regional relocation scheme has been a flop, with just 636 grants issued in the ten months to April - less than 7% of the 10,000 grants forecast by Treasury in last year's Budget," Mr Robertson said today.

"To make matters worse, one third of all people who have received the grants have actually been paid to leave the Central Coast, Hunter and Illawarra regions - starving, rather than growing, areas outside Sydney.

"There are fears many of these people may have literally moved just up the road to a neighbouring suburb marked 'regional' and pocketed $7,000 under the Premier's scheme.

"The Premier should stop wasting taxpayer dollars on schemes that don't work and reallocate this money to create much needed jobs for NSW.

"Before the election the Premier pretended that this program would solve everything from congested roads and rail lines to hospital waiting times and the housing shortage.

"Barry O'Farrell should end this charade and reinvest the hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to this scheme back into meaningful assistance for regional communities."

Shadow Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services, Mick Veitch said the O'Farrell Government had wasted another $1 million on an advertising scheme that hasn't worked.

"At this rate, the regional relocation scheme will cost $21 million over the forwards estimates, drastically short of the $188 million the O'Farrell Government set aside, with no guarantee the saved money will even be spent in the regions," MR Veitch said.

"The only way to drive a genuine population shift into country NSW is to provide secure, well paying jobs.

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