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Infrastructure Review Winners and Losers


Infrastructure Minister Catherine King has released the results of the national infrastructure review, with some projects across the region impacted, observes peak Business group for the region, Business Hunter.

 

Business Hunter CEO, Bob Hawes said there were winners and losers across the region, with greater clarity needed on some initiatives.


“While the Newcastle to Sydney - Tuggerah-Wyong faster rail upgrade has been cut, the $500 million commitment for High Speed Rail Authority Priorities has been maintained, which begs the question are we simply moving straight to high speed rail?” said Mr Hawes.


Before the 2022 federal election, Labor leader Anthony Albanese pledged $500 million for a fast-rail project in his first budget. The government established the High Speed Rail Authority to prioritise the Newcastle to Sydney section of the network as part of the funding commitment.


“Given the strategic importance of this link, we would anticipate this would still be a high priority,” said Mr Hawes.


Mr Hawes said it was pleasing to see a range of strategic projects across the region were still on the list, including the Mandalong Road upgrade.


“Regional growth and development brings with it the challenges of moving people and goods effectively and efficiently. As the Hunter grows, these challenges will come into greater focus. Many roads projects we have long been advocating for are on the list, which is pleasing to see,” said Mr Hawes.


One key project that remains under scrutiny is the Muswellbrook Bypass, which received commitment for planning to continue, with construction funds contingent upon further review.


“This project will improve network efficiency on the New England Highway, particularly travel times for long haul freight movements, which will directly benefit producers in the region,” said Mr Hawes.


The Northern NSW Inland Port-Narrabri, part of an inland rail system linking the major primary production regions in inland New South Wales and South East Queensland to major export hubs, was cut.


Mr Hawes said Narrabri was an important destination connecting the north west of the state to the Port of Newcastle.


“Considering the bigger picture, this link is important for supporting and diversifying regional economies as primary producers and manufacturers look to grow businesses into key regional and metropolitan areas, or export markets,” said Mr Hawes.


Mr Hawes said that by reducing the scope of infrastructure projects on the books, the government should now have ample capacity to deliver on committed projects.


“A significant reduction in the scope of projects should hopefully see those on the list move through without delay. Ideally, we’ll also receive some clarity from the State government to confirm all these projects are in frame, given this clarity at a federal level,” said Mr Hawes.

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