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Premier Gladys Berejiklian says NSW will go it alone on fast rail instead of waiting for consensus from state and federal governments and she signalled a renewed focus on privatising public assets to finance such infrastructure projects.
Ms Berejiklian on Thursday outlined her plan to reduce travel time between Sydney and regional NSW centres and indicated her government would again look at “asset recycling” to finance projects.
“We’re carrying a bit more debt than we used to, but also the asset recycling agenda is definitely renewed for us,” Ms Berejiklian told The Sydney Morning Herald Infrastructure Summit.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian addresses the Sydney Morning Herald Infrastructure Summit on Thursday.CREDIT:BROOK MITCHELL
Having sold a majority stake in electricity assets for close to $23 billion in 2017, 49 per cent of Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy still remains in state hands. The government scrapped plans last year to sell-off its forestry assets after close to a quarter of softwood was destroyed during the black summer bushfires, but is now pushing ahead with the sale of the remaining minority share of the WestConnex motorway.
Ms Berejiklian said the state’s “creative” financing of infrastructure projects had helped NSW expand its non-financial assets by 46 per cent over the past four years, which is expected to grow by another 34 per cent over the next four.
“When talking about asset recycling we’re serious, instead of owning something that might not be very creative and active on the balance sheet, you can convert that into schools and hospitals and roads and rail,” she said.
Fast (250km/h) and “faster rail” (less than 200km/h) would be constructed between Sydney and Newcastle, the Central Coast, Goulburn and Nowra under a plan the NSW government is considering, Ms Berejiklian said.
“NSW is poised to enter a new golden age of infrastructure delivery,” she said.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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