The New South Wales State Government has announced a record commitment to infrastructure in its 2015/16 budget, thanks in part to a seemingly never-ending windfall from stamp duty.
Sydney’s booming property market helped net the government over $7 billion in stamp duty during the last financial year, and a $2.1 billion budget surplus is predicted when 2014/15 ends next week.
The forecast is for years of growth and prosperity, with budget surpluses predicted over the next four years including $2.5 billion for 2015/16.
Among the winners over the next 12 months is the health portfolio, which is set to receive $1.4 billion for new facilities and upgrades to hospitals along with a massive $8.7 billion for inpatient services.
An additional $400 million was announced last week to boost the Housing Acceleration Fund, which is designed to put downward pressure on Sydney’s property prices. In reality, the Fund is more likely to result in even more stamp duty gold for the NSW Government.
Infrastructure is the big winner, starting with the WestConnex motorway, NorthConnex motorway and Sydney Metro Northwest train project which receive a combined $2.8 billion.
A total of $1.9 billion is earmarked for upgrades to regional highways, and $180 million to continue the ‘pinch point’ project aimed at easing congestion on Sydney arterial roads.
A combined $1.4 billion from the state and Federal Governments has been commitment to fast-tracking the duplication of the Pacific Highway, which is on track for completion by 2020.
Around $590 million is set to fund future infrastructure projects, with the aim of seeing projects ‘shovel ready’ ahead of the expected windfall from the government’s leasing of the state’s electricity ‘poles and wires’.
These projects include a third Sydney Harbour crossing (the Western Harbour Tunnel), the Parramatta Light Rail and roads designed to complement the new international airport at Badgerys Creek.
Besides the Metro Northwest, public transport is also in the government’s focus, including continued funding for the Sydney light rail project, a new train station at Barangaroo in Sydney’s CBD, $92 million for new buses and $521 million for transport concession schemes.
From a $9 billion public transport package, new heavy and light rail lines will be built while some of the state’s train stations and carriages will receive an upgrade.
In all, an additional $1.3 billion will be spent on infrastructure in 2015/16 than over the previous 12 months.
NRMA President Kyle Loades praised the NSW Government’s commitment to addressing the state’s growing population.
“The Government’s ongoing commitment to the big ticket projects in Greater Sydney means the city’s road and rail networks finally have a chance of coping with its growing population,” Mr Loades said.
“NRMA is also encouraged by the Government’s strong commitment to regional NSW. All too often overlooked in the past, the state’s major country highways are sorely in need of the funding this budget provides.”
However, the ‘will-it-ever-be-built’ F6 extension has missed out yet again in the 2015/16 budget, and Mr Loades called on the NSW Government to commit to the project with a firm commencement date.
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