Paul Fletcher MP

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Op-Ed: 'Building works a tough act to follow'

Articles by Paul Monday, 03 April 2017

With Gladys Berejiklian now Premier, the state government is delivering a very impressive suite of infrastructure projects.

Infrastructure was a key government priority for her predecessor Mike Baird. As treasurer in the O'Farrell government, Mike Baird played a key role in the decisions to proceed with major motorway projects such as NorthConnex and WestConnex.

Leading a campaign in 2015 after the Coalition's first four-year term, Baird could point to work underway on NorthConnex, WestConnex, Northwest rail (which subsequently became part of the Sydney Metro project), the new convention centre and much else.

The contrast to the previous Labor government was striking. In 16 years of Labor, 12 rail lines were announced; half a line was delivered (Epping to Chatswood).

Baird could also point to $20 billion of infrastructure plans for the second term, funded under his detailed plan to enter into a long-term lease of electricity distribution networks. This included Parramatta Light Rail, WestConnex extensions and a regional transport package.

New Premier Berejiklian has made it clear that she intends to build on the NSW government's record of infrastructure investment.

Given her background as both minister for transport in the O'Farrell government and as treasurer in the Baird government, she is well placed to do so.

Since 2013, federal Coalition governments have worked closely with the NSW government on the infrastructure agenda for NSW.

WestConnex, for example, has been supported with $1.5 billion of federal grant funding, and a $2 billion concessional loan from the federal government.

The Pacific Highway is being upgraded to be four lanes all the way from Sydney to the Queensland border by 2020; this too is being jointly funded with the federal government contributing $5.6 billion.

The two governments are also working closely together on Western Sydney Airport, due to open by 2026.

It will have high quality ground transport connections, including the new M12 that will run from the airport to the M7, and the Northern Rd will be upgraded to four lanes, under the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan. The NSW government has been willing to make the case for politically challenging measures such as withdrawing capital from state owned assets, such as ports and electricity networks, to reinvest in vitally needed infrastructure assets.

While all state governments work with the federal government to secure funding support for infrastructure projects, NSW has taken a particularly strategic approach. Rather than expecting the federal government to fund the lion's share of projects, the NSW Coalition government has consistently followed the maxim of "come with a solution, not with a problem".

The result is an impressive array of infrastructure projects that will benefit the people of Sydney and NSW for generations to come.

Published in the Daily Telegraph April 3, 2017

Authorised by Paul Fletcher MP, Level 2, 280 Pacific Highway Lindfield NSW 2070.

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