The 2023 NSW State Budget was released in mid September. But does it improve our streets or is more needed? We analysed if the budget supports better streets.
The 2023 NSW Budget only allocated 0.13% of the transport capital works budget, or $3 per person every year, for walking and cycling infrastructure across the whole state. This is less than a cup of coffee, and is nowhere near enough to increase participation and safety, despite this being the NSW Government’s objective in its Active Transport Strategy.
By comparison, Ireland allocates 20% of its transport budget to active transport while Sweden allocates 18% in line with the UN’s recommendation to prioritize people over cars in the transport system. Greater Manchester in the United Kingdom is spending £54 per person (AU$102 per person) on cycling infrastructure. Such a substantial commitment to active transport is critical to reducing emissions, as well as improving community health and wellbeing outcomes.
Better Streets would like to see the NSW government commit to $55 per person per year for active travel as follows:
What can you do?
As a member of the public, you have a right to ask our politicians for more funding, and influence next year’s budget. By presenting a united front, our message is more powerful.
Your advocacy matters, and together, we can create the change we want to see in our communities.
More is spent on other transport infrastructure every day than on active transport over two years.
$72.3 billion for transport infrastructure: The budget allocates a whopping $72.3 billion for transport capital works over four years, which is $1.5 billion a month, or nearly $50 million a day. In other words, we spend more on transport infrastructure a day than we do for active transport over two years!
$97.9 million for Active Transport capital works: The Active Transport capital works budget is $97.9 million over 4 years. This is just 0.13% of the transport capital budget, or $3 per person every year.
Active Transport funding as operating expenditure: In August 2023 the government announced $39.5 million for the Get Active NSW grants program which will fund 80 walking and cycling projects in 50 councils across NSW. This is reserved in the operating expenditure budget. This is presumably in addition to the $10.5 million that was already allocated, bringing total grant funding to $50 million for this year.
Act now for your chance to influence that!
Every May/June, all NSW councils, by law, have to seek public input on their budget and plans for the next year (operational plan) and four years (delivery plan). By law, they have to take into account any submissions. But hardly anyone does give input, so it’s very easy for you (and maybe a couple of neighbours/friends) to make your input count.
Follow these easy steps:
Step 1: search for “[council name] operational plan and budget 2023” on the web OR go to the council home page and look for a “Have your say” or “Community Engagement” link where you should find it. If not, call or email the council to ask for the link.
Step 2: Make a submission before the deadline which will be soon – late May or early June. Some councils provided below
Two-minute version: in the comment box, or in an email to the email address shown, make a general, or specific comment.
Download the operational plan (which usually includes the budget near the end) and skim through it, noting or highlighting the useful bits. Look out for council’s strategic objectives and targets – these usually have good “Better Streets” related ideals that you can hold them to. Then look at the actions, and the budget figures (under capital expenditure). Start with praise for the good actions, targets and budget items, and then point out any gaps or areas to improve. Ideally, link your suggestions back to their strategic objectives that support your case. It works best if you underline or re-state at the end your clear and specific recommendations
Step 3: amplify your submission - they’ll have to consider your recommendations and comments, but it will have even more influence if others make similar comments. Email it to a few friends or neighbours and encourage them to copy a point or two. Maybe post it on the local or school facebook group. And, best of all, email a copy to the councillors, so they can also see what input the community is giving – they might decide to vote for changing the budget to include your suggestions.
Late in June, council will decide on the final budget along with any changes made based on the feedback from community or councillors.
Go for it! Make your views count.
Links to some councils provided below: