ORANGE mayor John Davis says the NSW government’s proposed $30 billion sell-off of the state’s electricity infrastructure could prove a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for the region to claim a share of the proceeds to fund construction of the Bells Line of Road expressway.
Cr Davis says the far west and central west are well placed to push for a slice of any proceeds of the sale.
“Rather than using the proceeds of a sell-off as a quick budget fix if, say, $30 billion comes from the sale of electricity infrastructure, it’s only fair that a good third of that, $10 billion, is put aside to make a start on long-term infrastructure like the Bells road expressway,” he said.
“If the federal government is now looking seriously at starting a new international airport in western Sydney, it raises the prospects of giving another expressway over the mountains a much higher priority.”
Cr Davis said he hoped the region’s new representatives in State Parliament, Bathurst’s Paul Toole and Dubbo’s Troy Grant, would also prove helpful in securing the funds.
“We’ve also got a new premier who’s passionate about infrastructure, and a deputy premier that’s also keen to get jobs for the bush and infrastructure,” Cr Davis said.
Cr Davis said the state government’s push to sell-off old assets to buy new assets could have benefits for the region for many years to come.
“This is not all about Orange, it’s about taking an opportunity that only comes once in a lifetime,” he said.
“Everybody sits at home and asks why members of Parliament don’t make long-term decisions.
“If they had to prove the economics of a project the Sydney Harbour Bridge would never have been built.”
Cr Davis said the construction of the Bells road expressway would mean more jobs for the far west and central west, better transport links throughout the region and benefits to industry.
“It will also be life changing for primary producers who will be able to get to the markets quicker,” he said.