NSW Budget 2021-22: What’s in it for roads and infrastructure?

Artist's impressions of the Parramatta Light Rail. Image courtesy of Parramatta Light Rail.
Artist’s impressions of the Parramatta Light Rail. Image courtesy of Parramatta Light Rail.

The NSW government’s infrastructure spend is expected to peak over the next year as the state commits to a $108.5 billion pipeline of infrastructure projects over the next four years.

Today’s state budget revealed an unprecedented $30 billion infrastructure spend within the next financial year, including highway extensions, upgrades, boosted public transport fleets and new train tracks.

The state is investing $12 billion over the next four years for the Sydney Metro West project, and another $3.1 billion over four years to add more trains and more services program to modernise the rail network.

A $2.7 billion investment will go into building the next stage of the M6 Motorway, with another $2 billion allocated to the Great Western Highway upgrade.

The state government is committing $1.3 billion over the next four years for the Mariyung Fleet, a new fleet of intercity trains that will travel between Sydney and the Central Coast and Newcastle, the Blue Mountains, and the South Coast.

Another $1.3 billion will be invested for the Northern Road upgrade and the M12 Motorway, with $717.9 million for the Transport Access program to provide a better experience of public transport customers.

A total of $683.5 million will go towards road safety investments in the state, with $588.1 million for NSW bus services, including new buses, identifying new bus routes and continuing the transition to low-emissions transport fleet.

The Muswellbrook bypass on the New England Highway is another major project, with the state allocating $168.7 million over four years to the bypass planning, design and pre-construction.

The state will spend $50 million for planning and development works of Stage 2 of the Parramatta Light Rail, and another $115.6 million for the construction of Henry Lawson Drive widening between Tower Road, Georges Hall and Auld Avenue, Milperra to double capacity.

The NSW Government has also announced $1.15 billion to begin construction on Sydney’s newest city centre, ‘Bradfield’. Bradfield is located at the centre of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, adjoining the new Western Sydney International Airport, and will become the hub for advanced manufacturing, research, science and education.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the state government will continue its asset recycling strategy, which last year saw the government offer to sell its share in the WestConnex motorway to fund other infrastructure investments, including the vital M4-M5 Link tunnels.

“We will continue our successful asset recycling program, including the sale of our remaining share in WestConnex to keep funding state-building projects for a stronger New South Wales,” the Treasurer said in his budget speech today.

The state is also spending a total of $490 million to encourage the uptake of electric cars. This includes a stamp duty waiver on vehicles under $78,000, a $3,000 rebate on the first 25,000 vehicles purchased with a value under $68,750, $17m to build more charging infrastructure and $33m to transition the government fleet.

Schools and social housing

Schools were other winners in the budget, with Treasurer Perrottet announcing $2.1 billion over the next four years in new capital expenditure to deliver 44 new and upgraded schools.

“This is the biggest state school building program in our country’s history,” he said.

Social housing is also on the agenda, with Treasurer Perrottet noting the state will invest more than $360 million for social housing in the next financial year, part of an $812 million investment delivering more than 800 new homes and upgrades to more.

In total, the budget brings the state’s transport capital to $18.7 billion and its education capital to $3.4 billion.

A $6.0 billion stimulus package will include $3.6 billion investment on infrastructure and capital maintenance, $1.2 billionthrough the Jobs and Infrastructure Acceleration Fund, $2.0 billion across new capital works upgrades and maintenance projects and over $360 million for the maintenance, upgrade and supply of new social housing.

Cultural transformation

Making New South Wales the “cultural capital of the country” is another promise made by the NSW Treasurer.

The state will be spending $200 million over four years to secure future major events and rejuvenate the visitor economy, promoting NSW as the premier state to visit and do business.

Another $168.2 million will be spent over four years toward the transformation of the Ultimo Powerhouse Museum into a dynamic precinct, with another $119.3 million to create a cultural venue and public open space at the Registrar General’s Building, consistent with the Macquarie Street East Precinct Review.

A come back

Over all, the budget has signalled a “come back” for the state after the hit suffered by the pandemic last year.

“NSW is back,” the Treasurer announced in his budget speech. “From the deepest recession in our lifetime we are back to growth, and back on track.”

In fact, NSW’s finances are in a better shape than forecast, with the deficit reduced by $8 billion since the last budget and the state on track to return to surplus in three years.

This year’s 2020-21 deficit has reduced from $16 billion forecast to $7.9 billion. The deficit will grow again in the coming 2021-22 financial year to $8.6 billion, in part because of a decision to increase public servant wages and drop an earlier policy to restrict wage rises to 1.5 per cent.

 


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