NSW Budget 2015-16

By Leighton O'Brien

In brief

A significant suite of infrastructure projects across transport, public housing, health and prisons, as well as new bodies to facilitate their delivery, have been announced in the NSW Budget. Partner Leighton O'Brien and Associate Dennis Smith report.

Key points

  • The Budget secures state government funding for major infrastructure projects such as the Sydney Metro project and the CBD Light Rail Project.
  • Funding will be provided to accelerate the planning stages for a number of future projects, such as the proposed Western Harbour Tunnel (Sydney's third harbour road crossing), the Smart Motorways Project and the Parramatta Light Rail.
  • The Government will also establish the Priority Projects Branch and the Greater Sydney Commission to streamline the planning approval process for major development and infrastructure.

The Sydney Metro project

The Budget demonstrates that the Government's highest infrastructure priority, after WestConnex, will be the delivery of the Sydney Metro – comprising the current North West Rail Link project from Rouse Hill to Epping, and the proposed Sydney Metro City and Southwest project, which will extend that line to the Sydney CBD and Bankstown via a second harbour rail crossing.

The Budget confirms that the Sydney Metro will include a station at Barangaroo, linking this important commercial and entertainment precinct with the east of the CBD.

Other infrastructure projects

The Government has allocated $38 billion for capital works over the next four years. A portion of this funding will be used to bring forward the planning stages of future projects. Projects funded include:

  • the CBD Light Rail ($2.1 billion)
  • Parramatta Light Rail ($19 million for planning);
  • Newcastle Light Rail ($103 million); and
  • road infrastructure to support Sydney's second airport at Badgerys Creek ($3.6 billion over 10 years).

The Budget also allocates a significant amount of funding for:

  • upgrades to existing public housing ($209 million) and the construction of 1791 new social housing dwellings ($342 million);
  • 23 hospital upgrade and construction projects ($1.4 billion);
  • $1.2 billion funding towards prisons, including a new private prison at Grafton and an expansion of the Parklea jail; and
  • introduction of a next generation rail fleet, including about 440 new rail carriages to service the Central Coast, Newcastle, the Blue Mountains, and the Illawarra ($2.8 billion).

Facilitation of infrastructure delivery

To facilitate the delivery of its infrastructure program (as well as other major developments), the Budget announced the establishment of a Priority Projects Branch within the Department of Planning and Environment, charged with halving the time it takes to assess state-significant projects.

In addition, to support targets for new home construction, the Budget allocates:

  • $19 million funding to establish the Greater Sydney Commission, which was foreshadowed in the new Sydney metropolitan plan released late last year, and will reportedly be tasked with ensuring that targets for the construction of new homes are met (Allens recorded an interview with the Department about 'A Plan for Growing Sydney' earlier this year); and
  • $400 million towards the Housing Acceleration Fund to pay for water, electricity, roads and other infrastructure to support housing development.