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A five-prong investment decision has been made for the huge $4.2 billion fund created by the federal Government’s buy-out of NSW’s share of Snowy Hydro – and regional NSW is the winner.
It includes data hubs, international airfreight hubs, water pipelines and dam infrastructure and new road and rail corridors.
Fairfax Media was given an early look at the priority areas announced by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro who vowed earlier this year to make sure all monies from the Snowy fund would be spent in regional NSW.
Mr Barilaro told Fairfax Media that dams were a major part of the spending agenda and water pipelines. He said he hoped the Snowy fund would leverage the federal government into going halves in major dam projects. He nominated the Macquarie, Gwydir, Lachlan and Richmond valleys as the priority sites for dams and also a dam in the Hunter.
“The state infrastructure strategy has already identified these areas,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Absolutely we will build dams. The time is right and I believe the political climate is right especially with sympathy for the regions with the drought so that we can move in this area now. We can also leverage money from the Federal Government to help with these projects. So we can turn $4.2 billion into $8.4 billion. Water security is of the highest priority.”
Increasing the height of dam walls was also on the agenda.
He also mentioned building a pipeline to shore up Coonabarabran’s water supplies.
Mr Barilaro promised to end mobile blackspots in regional NSW, whether the Federal government wanted to be involved or not.
“We will make NSW mobile blackspot free,” he said.
“We know some of this area falls under the federal government but NSW will lead the way and get this done.”
He also said the government wanted to set up regional data hubs to increase internet speeds and connectivity.
“The ability to do more in your businesses in the regions will increase.”
Increasing employment would increase the self-worth of people, especially young people, in the regions and also boost mental health.
International airfreight hubs were also being considered for a number of centres so farmers could access export markets more easily.
This article first appeared on www.westernmagazine.com.au
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