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The NSW government has promised to spend billions of dollars on new water security measures in the bush, fixing mobile communications blackspot issues and improving road and rail networks across regional NSW, as it outlined plans for its Snowy Mountains Hydro fund.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the $4.2 billion reaped from the sale of NSW’s share of the Snowy Hydro Scheme would be used to deliver "transformational projects" that would "help secure a future" for young people in regional NSW.
Improvements to the state's road and rail networks are at the top of the list. CREDIT:CHRISTOPHER PEARCE
“These are big picture projects that generations before us have dreamed of and generations that follow us will benefit from," Mr Barilaro said.
Mr Barilaro, who will announce the planned expenditure in a speech on Thursday, said the ongoing drought, which has debilitated parts of NSW, highlighted the need to invest in water security infrastructure.
“Dams and pipelines are a key priority and work is already underway on water security
projects to enable NSW to better manage our most precious resource," Mr Barilaro said.
The proceeds will also be targeted towards four other "key priorities" across regional NSW – digital connectivity and fixing mobile blackspots, road and rail networks, freight linkages and creating regional "business precincts".
Deputy Premier John Barilaro will announce the planned expenditure on Thursday. CREDIT:JAY CRONAN
The first of these precincts is being developed in Parkes, central NSW, where Snowy Hydro proceeds are funding the creation of an "inland port" to leverage off the federal government's Inland Rail project, which will link Parkes with other major centres.
The Berejiklian government announced earlier this year it had sold its stake in the hydro scheme to the Commonwealth government and had placed the $4.2 billion in proceeds in a "Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund".
It subsequently passed legislation that required the proceeds to be spent in regional NSW, as a protection measure against future government's redirecting the funds to metropolitan centres.
Mr Barilaro said the government was also investigating the potential for an "international air freight hub" to be established in a regional centre, with the aim of giving local producers "significant competitive advantages" to deliver beef, dairy, fruit, nuts and seafood around Australia and overseas.
"This will open up opportunities for regional NSW to access higher value markets, which are critical during the current drought," Mr Barilaro said.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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