After decades of neglect and moments of national embarrassment, the New South Wales government is providing money to investigate improving the WIN Entertainment and Sporting precinct in Wollongong.

In 2020 the Illawarra Hawks’ final home game of the season was embarrassingly called off mid-match after heaving rain caused the roof to leak at the WIN Entertainment Centre (WEC).

The community also felt humiliated over what has been locally called “hoop droop” when a backboard collapsed in a pre-game warm-up prior to a televised National Basketball League match in March 2021 at the WEC.

Other notable critics of the WEC include Tina Arena, who has raised issues about the standards of the dressing rooms and said the centre needed a makeover.

In Tuesday’s budget, the government’s Enterprise, Investment and Trade Cluster included a funding commitment of $3.5 million ($4.5 million recurrent expenses over two years) to develop a detailed business case and master plan for the precinct.

Wollongong City Council welcomed the investment as a “momentous step in uplifting the Wollongong entertainment and foreshore area”.

The precinct includes the WEC, WIN Stadium and nearby training field.

Wollongong MP Paul Scully has welcomed money to work on a business plan for the Illawarra Sports and Entertainment Precinct but says it is years too late.(ABC Illawarra: Ainslie Drewitt Smith)

Money for roads

The budget also included $13.9 million for local roads over the next year and a promised $286 million over the next four for continued planning and construction to replace the existing intersection of the M1 Princes Motorway and Mt Ousley Interchange

There was $44 million to continue work on the Nowra Bridge Replacement over the Shoalhaven River, $39 million in the next year and a promise of $119 million over the next four years to upgrade Picton Road, and $4 million for Appin Road improvements.

Federal Labor MP Fiona Phillips has criticised the government’s failure to follow through on a promise for $8 million as part of the $40 million Nowra bypass.

Hospital delay?

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson is demanding to know why the government has pushed back the delivery of the new $721 million Shellharbour Hospital.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced the greenfield site for the new Shellharbour Hospital last year.(ABC Illawarra: Timpthy Fernandez)

Ms Watson said in the budget papers the proposed completion of the hospital had been delayed from 2027 to 2028.

She has written to Health Minister Brad Hazzard asking him to explain what caused the setback.

The budget contained $28 million to continue work on the new hospital and its car park.

Mr Hazzard has issued a statement reassuring the community the project would be completed as promised.

“The 2028 date referred to in the 2022-23 NSW Budget refers to the financial completion of the project, not the practical completion of the hospital. I note this same date was referenced in the 2021-22 NSW Budget.

“When you build a family home, you don’t pay the builder the full costs up front, you pay in stages.

“The principle is no different with a hospital. The bricks and mortar are complete before the final payments are made.”

There was also $16 million to continue redeveloping Shoalhaven Hospital and $8 million for another stage of Bowral Hospital.

The Illawarra Women’s Health Centre is disappointed that despite the government’s promise of a budget focused on women, there is no money for the Women’s Trauma Recovery Centre.

General manager Sally Stevenson said despite the rhetoric of the budget being a women’s budget, it failed to respond to core issues.

Other projects overlooked in the budget include the Warrawong Community Centre and Fairy Meadow Ambulance Station.

Education spend

The budget contained $18 million for the relocation of Budawang School, and new upgrades promised for Ulladulla High School and Ulladulla and Milton Primary Schools.

There also was a commitment of $1 million for improvements at Bomaderry High and $5 million for a new primary school at South Nowra promised by the government more than a year ago.

There has been community concern that despite repeated local requests there was no money in the budget for part of the Milton Anglican School site to be used as a new public high school.