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Much needed Illawarra infrastructure investments moving forward but firm funding commitments needed

Release Date: 3/12/2014
The IBC says the Rebuilding NSW: State Infrastructure Strategy released by the New South Wales Government yesterday confirms the Illawarra will receive a share of the proceeds of the proposed ‘poles and wires’ lease.
“Using the proceeds of the proposed ‘poles and wires’ lease to fund essential transport, health and education projects across the state will boost jobs and growth opportunities, particularly in the Illawarra, where significant investment in infrastructure is long overdue,” said CEO Debra Murphy. 
 “We have united with key regional stakeholders and been working closely with our members to develop priority regional infrastructure projects that we believe should be funded with the proceeds of the ‘poles and wires’ lease. These include:
  1. Complete the M1 (F6) Extension between Waterfall to St Peters by 2020, including investigations to link to the Westconnex South
  2. Reduce travel time on the Illawarra rail line to 60 minutes – complete engineering and timetabling upgrades to resolve structural issues between Wollongong to Sydney.
  3. Complete the construction of Maldon Dombarton, the dedicated freight rail corridor by 2020.
  4. Commence construction of the Albion Park Rail Bypass by 2017
  5. commence construction on the third Shoalhaven River Crossing bridge by 2020
“Wollongong-Sydney road connectivity is worse than similar regional centres, as evidenced in our ‘Linking the Illawarra – improving the region’s transport connectivity’ study. The Rebuilding NSW commitments to scoping studies for the F6 corridor, Gateway to the South Pinch Point upgrades and WestConnex southern extension are steps in the right direction for improving road connectivity between the centres.
“We are also glad to see that the Government has listened and is investigating a faster rail journey between Sydney and the Illawarra but would like to see a firm financial commitment from the Government to upgrades to resolve the Illawarra rail line’s structural issues.  
“There is some good news for the Illawarra south of Wollongong – which will share the $4.1 billion for regional NSW funding for the transport infrastructure the region needs.
“The Albion Park Rail Bypass is mentioned in the Regional Roads for Growth program and we hope the project receives a sufficient share of the $1 billion program funding.  
“We are glad to see that the Government has included the private sector and innovative funding models in the strategy.
“Rebuilding NSW has the potential to unlock the infrastructure priorities for the Illawarra but the devil is in the detail, particularly on rail infrastructure, which is lacking in the strategy.
“We’ve seen a lot of scare-mongering in the last couple of days about higher electricity prices, but the fact is that NSW’s publicly owned electricity networks have been the major driver of the hike in household energy bills – adding $580 to the average bill in just five years.
“Since 1997 the publicly-run networks in NSW have increased their costs by a staggering 122 per cent. In contrast, since leasing its electricity networks in the 1990s, Victoria has seen network costs decline by 18 per cent.
“Given that public ownership of electricity networks has failed to deliver affordable electricity in NSW, the proposed ‘poles and wires’ lease is a sensible way to put downward pressure on electricity prices while simultaneously unlocking funds to invest in essential Illawarra infrastructure.
“The challenge for the State Opposition will be to demonstrate how doing nothing can deliver the infrastructure the Illawarra needs in a timeframe that matches the government’s commitments,” said Ms Murphy.
Media Contact:         Julia Frith 0417 135 858

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