NSW

NSW electricity sale to pay for new harbour crossing, rail, roads

A second harbour rail crossing and three new underground train stations will be built if the government sells part of the state's electricity network, Premier Mike Baird says.

NSW Westconnex promo animation

The NSW Government releases a video outlining part of its new infrastructure spending, titled Rebuilding NSW WestConnex Sydney Roads Renewal.

An estimated $20 billion flowing from the sale would be used to fund a suite of major infrastructure projects, under a policy the NSW government will put to voters at next year's state election.

Among the projects that would be funded by the sale are a new Sydney rapid transit line, including a second rail crossing for Sydney Harbour, and extending the north-west rail link through the Sydney CBD to Bankstown.

The project would deliver three new underground CBD stations and 60 per cent more trains during peak hour.

The WestConnex motorway will be extended to the north and south.

About $6 billion will go to regional projects including roads and water funds worth $1 billion each.

Premier Mike Baird and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner announced on Tuesday that state cabinet had endorsed a proposal to take to next year’s election the 99-year lease of 49 per cent of the NSW electricity network .

The NSW Premier, Mike Baird.
The NSW Premier, Mike Baird. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

However, as foreshadowed, Essential Energy - which services rural and regional areas - will be exempted from the sale after push-back from National MPs concerned about job losses.

A scoping study will determine what proportion of Endeavour Energy, Ausgrid and Transgrid will be leased.

Grid lease to power infrastructure upgrade in NSW

NSW Premier Mike Baird plans to raise 20-bln dollars from power grid leases to upgrade statewide infrastructure.

The proposal to sell 49 per cent of the state’s electricity network businesses was taken to the National and Liberal party rooms on Tuesday morning.

While Liberal MPs quickly endorsed the plan, the Nationals met for more than four hours before reaching an agreed position.

In a bid to allay concerns about price increases under private ownership, electricity network prices will be ‘‘discounted by 1 per cent off forecast regulated prices until 2019’’.

Mr Baird said it was an ‘‘historic’’ day for NSW.

Earlier, Opposition Leader John Robertson warned that the average $1 billion a year in dividends which the network businesses returned to government would ‘‘disappear’’.

‘‘Where’s he going to get the money that was paid in dividends from?’’ he asked.

‘‘Is he going to sack more teachers, more nurses? Are we doing to see police officers sacked? Or is he going to increase taxes?’’

Mr Robertson said voters knew that ‘‘nothing comes for free’’ and would not support the sale simply because Mr Baird had linked the proceeds to new infrastructure promises.

‘‘People aren’t fools,’’ he said. ‘‘Frankly for Mike Baird to think he can pork-barrel his way into selling these assets by offering all of these wonderful things, I think he underestimates the people of NSW."