The NSW government is planning to spend the money raised from the sale of the state’s electricity distribution network on a $20 billion infrastructure program as the cornerstone of its case for a second term at the March 2015 election.
The Premier claims the sale will drive down electricity prices. The Opposition argues it will rob the state of $1 billion in revenue annually.
The NSW Government’s State Infrastructure Strategy has accepted all of the recommendations of Infrastructure NSW to reshape Sydney and the state.
The biggest chunk of spending, $7 billion, is allocated towards the 30km Sydney Rapid Transit rail corridor, also announced in June, which includes a second Sydney Harbour rail crossing. It includes three new CBD underground stations. Construction would begin in 2017.
The other big ticket item is $1.1 billion towards a new western Harbour road tunnel and extensions to WestConnex, linking it to the Anzac Bridge and Victoria Road and near Kogarah in the south, with $800 million left over towards urban public transport improvements.
Roads minister Duncan Gay says the tunnel will allow up to 50,000 vehicles to bypass the CBD by linking the Gore Hill Freeway with a WestConnex extension at Rozelle.
The Premier says congestion in Sydney costs $5 billion in lost productivity annually, rising to $8 billion by 2020, so $1.3 billion is allocated to “bust congestion in Sydney by boosting the productivity of the city’s roads”, including $100 million towards an expanded clearways program, $400 million for motorways, with the M4 singled out, and $300M for the “urban road pinch points” program.
The government plans to tip an extra $400 million into light rail for Parramatta for a total spend of $1 billion.
With $600 million of a $1.2billion “sports and cultural fund” – up $500 million on the original allocation – earmarked towards the upgrade of sports stadiums, the $350 million upgrade of ANZ Stadium at Homebush, revealed last week, is looking likely.
Regional NSW gets $6 billion, including $4.1 billion for regional transport, with a $500 million upgrade to the Newell highway, which passes through western towns such as Dubbo and Moree.
The state’s schools, hospitals and water infrastructure get $1 billion each.
Baird says the $20 billion investment will generate an additional $300 billion in economic activity for the state over 20 years and add 100,000 jobs, according to economic modelling by Deloitte Access Economics.
“This is a visionary plan for Sydney and the regions, and most important, it is funded,” the Premier said.
The announcement comes a month after NSW treasurer Andrew Constance revealed the state’s budget was back in the black with a $1.2 billion surplus, thanks largely due to increased property stamp duty revenue.
Here’s the full spend list: