The Central West will “absolutely” benefit from the $4.15 billion proceeds of the sale of the NSW government’s share of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, Deputy Premier John Barilaro has assured.
On Thursday night the federal government announced it had secured sole ownership of the Snowy project by buying NSW and Victoria’s shares for a total of $6 billion.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro wasted no time in announcing the money would be used exclusively for regional projects.
Mr Barilaro said the Central West would get a good percentage of that money and said it would go towards visionary projects.
“We are serious about investment in regional NSW and there is a natural spine of great cities including Dubbo, Bathurst and Orange that scream for and attract investment and there are so many wonderful towns around those,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The Central West has many infrastructure projects that will benefit the next generation including the Bells Line, the Newell Highway, water storage and dams, as well as telecommunications and schools.
“Telecommunications is such a big one now. Whereas in the past we viewed roads as the main link for getting business done, good connectivity is so important.
“We want people to come and work and play in regions and improving telecommunications is an important part of that.”
However Mr Barilaro stressed the government would take time to determine what the money would be spent on.
“The Snowy has a lot of emotion around it because it is one of the greatest infrastructure projects in Australia’s history so we want to use this money for the next generation of infrastructure,” he said.
“Every MP will be looking to secure funding for their region and they will have a chance to say what they think it should go towards,” he said.
“It sounds cliched but this is once-in-a-generation opportunity to see a windfall of $4.15 billion for regional areas that wasn’t there yesterday, but now it is available and we want to use it right. That’s why we won’t rush to a decision.”