Massive debt, asset sales to finance NSW Budget

The NSW Government is claiming record spending in all areas of its Budget released today, but the expenditure will come at the expense of massive increases in debt and sales of assets.
 
In particular, the $62.9 billion infrastructure spending flagged for the coming four years to 2013 will be financed by a 45% increase in net debt to $7.6bn and a 51% increase on revenue from asset sales, when compared to the previous four-year period ending 2009. Of the $62.9bn, $18bn is earmarked for spending in 2009-10.
 
Roads
 
$4.4bn this year and a total of $23bn over the four years to 2013 is earmarked for road building and maintenance. This year’s expenditure includes:
  • $660 million for the ongoing upgrade of the Pacific Highway, including $230 million for the Ballina and Buladelah bypasses and $252 million for four lane upgrades from Sapphire to Woolgoolga, Coopernook to Moorland and Moorland to Herons Creek.
  • $337.5 million to upgrade the Hume Highway.
  • $132 million to continue improvements on the Great Western Highway including upgrades at Lawson and Wentworth Falls East.
The much-criticised $165 million Iron Cove duplication project, which is supposed to save commuters two (2) minutes in peak times and up to eight (8) minutes in off-peak times, has been allocated $60 million in this year’s Budget.
 
Transport
 
Not surprisingly, public transport gest the lion’s share of the money, with only miniscule amounts to be used for fraight projects. These are:
  • $9 million towards the $15 million investigation into the Northern Sydney Rail Freight Corridor project. The Federal Government will also contribute $840 million for the separation of freight and passenger services through network improvements from North Strathfield to Broadmeadow.
  • $15 million towards the $82.3 million project to purchase land and continue design works for the Southern Sydney Freight Line.
While the government promises to finally make a start on the South Western Rail Line, the North West has been totally forgotten with no mention of this fast-growing area of the city in the Budget.
 
Instead, the Budget confirms massive spending on its grandiose but often-derided pet projects such as the City and West Metros:
  • $580.8 million towards the $4.8 billion CBD section of the Sydney Metro.
  • $108.7 million towards the West Metro, connecting the CBD with Parramatta. This includes the $91 million of funding announced in the 2009 Federal Budget.
Spending on other rail projects includes:
  • $350 million for works that will increase the capacity of the CityRail network.
  • $186 million toward the first stage of the South West Rail Link, incorporating a major new transport interchange at Glenfield.
  • $125 million towards 72 new Outer Suburban rail carriages.
  • $117 million for works to support 626 new air conditioned rail cars due to start delivery from the end of 2010.
Ports
 
$262.6 million will be invested by Sydney Ports Corporation on the Port Botany Expansion Project, with the ongoing construction of a new 60 hectare container terminal underpinning more than 500 jobs.
 
Sydney Ports expects to begin construction of a second bulk liquids berth at Port Botany, with $14.9 million to be spent in 2009/10 out of a total cost of $52.7 million. Other projects supported this year include:
  • $72.1 million for the Enfield Intermodal Logistics Centre.
  • $3.7 million to complete the construction of a new Port Operations Building at Port Botany for Sydney Ports’ Marine Operations and Pilot Service.
  • $2.2 million for a passenger gangway for the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
  • $25 million earmarked for a new cruise terminal to replace existing facilities at No 8 Darling Harbour.
$20 million will be spent at the Port of Newcastle, including:
  • $10.65 million to complete the upgrade of the former iron ore berth at Mayfield for general cargo and other trade.
  • $3.2 million for the planned construction of a new Pilot Station Ports Centre.
  • $2.5 million for a new Pilot Cutter Vessel.
  • $820,000 to renew fenders at Kooragang No 3 Berth.
The Capital Works Budget for Port Kembla for the 2009-2010 financial year will total $15.705m, with most of the funding directed to work on the Outer Harbour expansion project. The first stage of the program involves 8-10 hectares of land reclamation.

 

The NSW Budget can be found at: www.budget.nsw.gov.au
 

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