Tens of thousands of jobs will be created in NSW by the Abbott and Baird governments’ spending on roads and rail infrastructure, Treasurer Joe Hockey says.
NSW has followed the ACT in taking up Mr Hockey’s asset recycling initiative, a $5 billion scheme designed to encourage states and territories to sell assets and plough the proceeds into economy-enhancing infrastructure.
Mr Hockey said NSW secured $2 billion in federal funding, which – allied with the Baird government plan to reinvest $13 billion from leasing of 49 per cent of the state’s electricity network – meant $15 billion of additional infrastructure.
“Tens of thousands of new jobs will be available to NSW,” Mr Hockey told reporters in Sydney.
“The only way you’re going to get jobs created is you start to invest more in infrastructure.”
Mr Hockey, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Premier Mike Baird and NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay were speaking on Sunday after a sod-turning ceremony for the WestConnex road project.
Mr Abbott said traffic queues and crowded trains cost the NSW economy up to $8.8 billion a year, and better infrastructure reduced commuting times. Mr Baird, who faces voters at the March 28 state election, said the $2 billion would go into even more infrastructure his government wanted to build across the state.
“Just remember: 16 years under Labor, you looked at these roads and nothing ever happened,” Mr Baird said.
Mr Gay was even more enthused, calling Sunday “day one” of building better roads in Sydney.
“This is day one of thousands of people cheering in their cars, giving us the high five, saying, ‘Good on you, you’re finally into it, you’re finally doing something’,” he said.
The NSW Labor opposition is against state asset sales, as were the Labor parties in Victoria and Queensland that turfed out one-term coalition governments.
Mr Hockey pointed out NSW’s asset recycling deal was the second under the initiative following the ACT Labor government.
“The rich hypocrisy of Labor in the NSW campaign against asset sales whilst their colleagues in the ACT are the first government to sign,” he said.
“I think the people in NSW will see right through it.”
Last month, the Labor ACT government secured $60 million from the asset recycling fund to support an investment in its Capital Metro light rail project.