New England missing out with smallest share of proceeds of poles and wires sale: Labor

Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro rejected the allegation the New England was missing out.
Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro rejected the allegation the New England was missing out.

It's "unfair" that our region has received the smallest share of the proceeds of the leasing of the state's poles and wires of any area, according to a Labor MLC.

Just 18.8 per cent of the Restart NSW fund has been spent outside the cities so far, despite a promise from the NSW state government that 30 per cent would be spent in the regions made when the fund was established.

And just six per cent of the portion spent in the state's seven regional areas has been spent in the New England North West.

Labor MLC John Graham said that allocation "seems unfair", saying an equal share would be about 14 per cent of regional spending - more than double what the region actually got.

"If you're in the New England there's a question about are you getting a fair share of the funding that was meant to be distributed to the regions, meant to go right around the state," he said.

"That is the question that I think is fair to ask now from the New England."

Labor MLC John Graham.

Labor MLC John Graham.

In Estimates, the Labor MLC said the region was "missing out" and asked Nationals leader John Barilaro "what is your problem with the New England and the north-west of the State?"

In a statement Deputy Premier John Barliaro said Restart NSW has funded a record number of infrastructure projects in regional NSW.

He argued thirty per cent of the fund is committed to be spent in NSW in the future, even if the amount actually spent to date is much less.

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"To date that amounts to $9.5 billion or 29 per cent of proceeds from the fund that have been spent, committed or reserved for regional NSW," he said.

"We are on track to meet that target and have a record number of projects underway - councils are the main recipients and they are currently inundated with works.

"The Restart Fund is in conjunction with the $4 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund with 100 per cent of its proceeds to be spent in regional NSW and the $1.6 billion Regional Growth Fund, which is already providing lifestyle, liveability, business, investment and economic improvements in the regions.

"More than $170 million in funding from the Regional Growth Fund alone has been committed to 170 projects in the New England - North West Region under the Regional Growth Fund."

Labor opposed the long term leasing of the states poles and wires. The Deputy Premier said if they had their way "the Restart Fund would not exist and regional NSW would receive nothing."

Labor MLC John Graham said in response he was simply asking if government was going to meet their regional allocation targets.

"The issue here is the government delivering on its policy commitment to spend 30 per cent of this in the regions - that hasn't happened.

"All we're doing is asking is for the government to explain have they met their own policy."

Established in 2011 by selling the state's poles and wires, the Restart NSW fund is worth $33.3 billion and has so far funded around $400 million worth of projects in the New England including roads, rail and airport upgrades.

Some of the projects sponsored by the fund include Glen Innes' Eerindii Ponds, the Tamworth, Armidale and Moree airports' airside upgrades and the Mount Lindesay road upgrade in Tenterfield.

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This story New England missing out with smallest share of proceeds of poles and wires sale: Labor first appeared on Glen Innes Examiner.