Labor pitches modest developments in NSW

WITH New South Wales’ voters’ March 28 date with the polls approaching both major parties are ramping up their efforts on the hustings in their efforts to win votes, and both parties are offering very different infrastructure plans.
Labor pitches modest developments in NSW Labor pitches modest developments in NSW Labor pitches modest developments in NSW Labor pitches modest developments in NSW Labor pitches modest developments in NSW

NCIG terminal, image courtesy of Whitehaven.

Staff Reporter

The NSW Labor opposition is promising to keep asset sales off the table, clinging to the state’s ‘poles and wires’, and delaying planned business tax cuts to help pay for $10 billion worth of infrastructure.

Keeping stamp duty aims to raise more than $5.1 billion over 10 years.

Labor will also scale back plans for the WestConnex motorway and delay building a second harbour rail crossing until 2022 as part of what it terms a "modest" infrastructure policy.

A further $2.9 billion of uncommitted funds from the existing infrastructure fund, Restart NSW, would be re-prioritised, and projects such as road works around Sydney's planned second airport, urban renewal in Newcastle project and regional water security works may also be delayed.

Labor is only publicly committing to the Parramatta light rail network going ahead, and completing projects underway such as the North-West Rail Link, the South-East Light Rail and the Pacific Highway duplication.

While its $10 billion pledge covers a range of yet to be announced projects aimed at roads, health and education infrastructure, upgrades to the passenger rail network and other building developments such as sporting stadiums, that leaves question marks over many other developments.

Labor is also pledging make Infrastructure New South Wales fully independent of government, make its business case and cost benefit analysis public, give it responsibility to oversee delivery of major infrastructure projects and take control of Restart NSW.

In contrast the Liberal government of Premier Mike Baird wants to sell off the state’s electricity transmission assets to raise $20 billion.

Of that, $6 billion will be spent in the regions, such as $273 million to fix traffic bottlenecks in the Hunter Valley.

It will also bring forward the second harbour tunnel to 2017 at a cost of $7 billion, with $1.1 billion towards a western harbour tunnel and several billion dollars for hospitals and schools.

Travel times on some of Sydney's most congested roads could be cut in half under Baird’s promise to spend $300 million on road upgrades, improving intersections and widening roads on 32 of the worst traffic corridors in Sydney.

Baird wants to privatise transmission company Transgrid and 50.4% of distribution businesses Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy via a 99-year lease to fund his ambitions, but the polls show only around 23% of NSW voters support that plan.

Although, given in the same Fairfax poll just 15% of voters could name Opposition Leader Luke Foley, so perhaps the Baird Government doesn’t need to worry about a Newmanesque wipeout as happened in Queensland over a similar asset sales plan.

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