Not much spark in poles and wires lease for Northern Rivers
SYDNEY will swallow up the lion's share of revenue from the NSW Government's $20 billion lease of its "poles and wires" electricity infrastructure, leaving only a few scraps for the Northern Rivers.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis put the relatively meagre serving down to the region's infrastructure jackpot in the last State Budget.
He guaranteed the $185 million Grafton Bridge reconstruction would go ahead and said construction would "absolutely start early next year".
"That money is guaranteed - it was already funded in last year's budget," he said.
"As I understand, the environmental impact statement is being assessed by the Department of Planning.
"They have to provide a list of conditions that would need to be satisfied by the prospective tenderer."
Infrastructure NSW has provided 30 recommendations on which projects should be given preference in the next round of funding.
Regional NSW has been allocated $6 billion, with the remaining $14 billion divided between Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.
The Northern Rivers may pick up a few dollars under the Bridges for the Bush, Fixing Country Roads and Fixing Country Rail programs, but no specific projects in the region have been allocated a portion of the $3.1 billion to be spent on regional roads and rail.
The North Coast road network has been recommended to share in $1 billion in upgrades with fellow high-growth areas Illawarra, Lower Hunter and Central Coast.
Mr Gulaptis again attributed the region's limited presence on the funding list to the windfalls of last year's State Budget.
"We have so far fared better than anyone else for funding spent in the regions," he said.
"Given the Pacific Hwy upgrade is going to essentially take place all in the Clarence electorate, that's about $5 billion we've got.
"That's more money than we've ever seen."
The plan also includes a second Sydney Harbour rail crossing and $2.4 billion to ease congestion on Sydney's roads.
Sydney will also receive an $8.9 billion boost to public transport.
Mr Gulaptis rejected suggestions the electricity asset lease was a risky business.
"Any suggestion we're going to lose revenue from the poles and wires lease is a fallacy, because the infrastructure we build will increase productivity," he said.
"That's where our revenue stream comes from.
"At the moment, congestion in Sydney is costing the state about $8-$10 billion a year."
$6 BILLION FOR REGIONAL NSW
Where the "poles and wires" lease revenue should be spent, according to Infrastructure NSW:
$3.1 billion for efficient freight transport to ports and markets:
Freight road corridor program - $2 billion
Bridges for the bush - $200 million
Fixing country roads - $500 million
Fixing country rail - $400 million
Regional growth roads program - $1 billion
Regional water security and supply fund - $1 billion
Regional schools renewal - $300 million
Regional multi-purpose health facilities - $300 million
Regional environment and tourism program - $300 million