The full sale of Snowy Hydro to the Federal Government is a $4.2 billion injection into the New South Wales economy, and the Mayor’s of South East NSW are lining up to spend it.
Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro, John Barilaro have “ring-fenced” those dollars for infrastructure projects in rural and regional NSW.
“4.2 billion dollars in one go for rural and regional NSW does not happen often, this is a once in a generation opportunity,” the Premier says.
“Snowy Hydro is iconic, an iconic nation-building project, what we intend to do is convert the proceeds into iconic nation-building projects for rural and regional NSW.”
Eurobodalla Mayor, Liz Innes is ready to help the Premier spend it; her wish list is geared towards generating employment and economic development opportunities.
“We’ve completed significant work in identifying our infrastructure priorities at a local and regional level,” Cr Innes says.
“This is a wonderful new opportunity and we’re grateful the NSW Government is directing the funding to regional areas.”
The top priorities for Eurobodalla Shire:
- Batemans Bay Regional Arts, Aquatic and Leisure Centre at Mackay Park
- Agribusiness and aquaculture infrastructure, including export packing and tourism facility for recently announced oyster hatchery at Moruya Airport;
- Surf Beach innovation park – subdividing and providing infrastructure for future economic and employment growth;
- Southern water storage facility – helping to secure Eurobodalla’s water supply with a 3,000 megalitre, off-stream storage facility near the Tuross River;
- Improved coastal access and inclusive infrastructure incorporating walking trails, accessible pontoons, accessible facilities, and beach and water access.
West of the coastal escarpment, Snowy Monaro Mayor, John Rooney has big ambitions including reopening the rail line from Canberra to Cooma and then on to Bombala and the port of Eden.
Cr Rooney was quick to put the idea on the agenda soon after being elected Mayor late last year, telling Fairfax Media at the time, that rail was the most efficient form of land transport and that reopening the Queanbeyan-Bombala railway would give the Dongwha mill at Bombala access to softwood plantations in the ACT and Palarang.
At that time the Mayor committed himself to speaking with all levels of government to progress the idea, five months later there’s money on the table for what the Deputy Premier and local member says will go towards infrastructure projects that span generations.
Also on the Snowy Monaro wishlist:
- Upgrading the transport network to ensure the main freight routes are to modern standards, including Imlay Road to Bombala
- The Bundian Way, a 360km ancient Aboriginal pathway that links Targangal (Mount Kosciuszko) and Bilgalera (Fisheries Beach, Eden)
In the Bega Valley, Mayor Kristy McBain also has road infrastructure in mind.
“Bega Valley Shire Council was very pleased to see the recent State Government announcement in regards to a potential funding boost for the regions stemming from the Snowy Hydro sale,” Cr McBain says.
“We have identified a number of infrastructure project priorities that, when completed, will bring substantial financial and social benefits to our community.
“[Including] water treatment facilities at Bemboka, Brogo, and Bega, [and] an upgrade of the Brown Mountain east-west transport link .”
Bega Valley Shire Council has just launched an Infrastructure Prospectus touting a range of projects in need of government and/or commercial investment.
“The prospectus enables the State and Federal Government to look at projects over a wide range of infrastructure, cultural, and sporting priorities for our area, we would obviously welcome any additional spend in our area,” Cr McBain says.
When it comes to what projects are funded when, the Deputy Premier says, “We’ll take our time deciding what those projects are.”
“We don’t want to squander the opportunity, the legacy left by Snowy Hydro,” Mr Barilaro says.
What would your community do with Snowy Hydro dollars? Make your pitch below.
*This story first appeared on RiotACT