NSW to spend A$62.9bn on infrastructure over four years(2)

Premier Nathan Rees said the amount marks the largest infrastructure spending program in the state's history. It will also come at the cost of a 'moderate budget deficit' which Rees deems necessary to protect 'essential frontline services'.

New South Wales (NSW) will invest A$62.9 billion ($50 billion; €36 billion) in the Australian state’s infrastructure over the next four years – an amount billed as the largest infrastructure spend in state history.

The spending will target the education, health and transport sectors and aims to support up to 160,000 jobs a year, NSW premier Nathan Rees said said in a statement. It will also include up to $5 billion in federal stimulus funding invested in the state’s projects over the four years.

Over that period, the state plans to invest A$15.7 billion to secure its energy supplies; A$10.8 billion on new roads; A$5.4 billion on water and sewerage; A$2.7 billion on the Sydney Metro; A$935 million on rail clearways, which disentangle excessively intertwined rails; and A$804 million for the South West Rail Link, an expansion of Sydney’s rail network, according to the statement.

In addition, A$5.7 billion will be spent on school education; A$4.3 billion on social housing and A$2.4 billion in health services.

Nearly one-third of the total amount is included in the state's 2009-2010 budget. During that time, NSW will invest A$18 billion in infrastructure – a 31.4 percent increase over the amount invested from 2008 to 2009.

That spending will come at the price of a “moderate budget deficit”, Rees said – a trade-off necessary to protect “essential frontline services”, he added.

Like other parts of Australia, NSW, the country's most populous state, has been impacted by the economic slowdown as its economy is heavily dependent on sectors such as housing construction, tourism and financial services.

Queensland, NSW's northern neighbour, is also dealing with a recession and a budget gap. In response, state premier Anna Bligh recently announced a plan to sell five key state-owned infrastructure assets with a combined value of A$15 billion over the next three to five years.