This week we saw both the Federal Budget and offical budget reply handed down in Canberra, with both documents acting as pre-campaign launches for the federal election that is coming up in May. Both the Coalition and Labor are promising billions of funding for new transport projects here in NSW, as well as around the country.
The incumbent Coalition government has promised that the state’s infrastructure boom will be further boosted with $7.3 billion for new rail and road projects. This includes a major investment of $3.5 billion for stage 1 of the the new North-South Metro line between St Marys and Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis via the new Western Sydney Airport. $50 million will be spent from the Urban Congestion Fund for new commuter carparks in Gosford, Panania, Hurstville and Woy Woy. A further $40 million has been set aside for detailed assessments of potential fast rail corridors in NSW, including from Sydney to Wollongong and Sydney to Parkes. $950 million has been earmarked for road upgrades. Most of the funding promised comes from forward estimates and will be delivered over four years.
In their budget reply, Labor criticised the government for only including the money for projects in forward estimates, where it claims they will not actually have to deliver on their promises. As part of the reply, Labor has committed to funding all of its major infrastructure projects in its first budget to be handed down later this year if it wins office. This will include $3 Billion for Sydney Metro West between the CBD and Westmead via the Bays Precinct, Sydney Olympic Park and Parramatta and at least $500 million for an extension of the South West rail link from Leppington to Western Sydney Airport via Bringelly. This will come alongside an investigation into funding for stage 1 of the the new North-South Metro line and promises for funding for a high speed rail planning authority.
It is a very good sign that both parties are providing funding for parts of the state governments major railway infrastructure plan. Both parties are promising funding for a rail line to the new Western Sydney Airport and the Coalition is spending big on reducing congestion. One criticism to come out of the budget on the transport front was the lack of funding for the Sydney Metro West project by the Coalition. This is a project that will likely need federal funding to get off the ground and given it has been brought forward by the state Coalition government, out seems odd that their federal counterparts would not want to support the project.
No matter which party wins the next federal election, it looks like New South Wales will be getting plenty of federal funding for its planned rail projects, leading to better transport outcomes.