The recently announced New South Wales budget has set a new standard for infrastructure investment, with the largest infrastructure budget since 2011 (see Fig. 1). The pressure was on for Treasurer Daniel Mahooney to deliver the first NSW state budget by the Labor government in more than a decade. Health, education, and world-class infrastructure are a focus of the budget, delivering a range of initiatives, from regional and rural NSW infrastructure to addressing the housing crisis.
With the budget providing a $116.5 billion investment (a $3.8 billion increase from last year) in public infrastructure over 4 years to deliver new schools, hospitals, transport projects, and address housing supply, it’s the largest investment we’ve seen in infrastructure compared to the previous three budgets from the NSW Government (see Fig. 2), and an exciting investment for NSW residents, especially in regional and rural NSW, who will see a $3.8 billion investment in regional health facilities and a $1.4 billion investment into regional schools.
Starting with the biggest allocation of investment is the transport sector, with $72.3 billion allocated for transport and infrastructure. Integrated transport networks including road, train, metro, bus, walking, and light rail are critical for driving economic growth and wellbeing.
A rapid increase in technology means transport planning and delivery needs to be flexible and sustainable, with an ever-increasing population and commuter needs, the NSW Government certainly has their work cut out for them.
The Transport capital program includes major investment in Sydney’s Transformational Metro projects, as well as significant investments into Regional and Rural NSW developments, including:
- $13.7 billion over four years for Sydney Metro West
- $7.9 billion over four years for Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport
- $1.5 billion over four years to connect the M1 Pacific Motorway and the Pacific Highway
- $1.3 billion over four years for the Coffs Harbour Bypass
This continued commitment to the development and longterm security of Sydney Metro projects was encouraged and welcomed by the Australian Railway Association, stating that “these city-shaping transport infrastructure projects in NSW not only create tens of thousands of jobs during construction but once completed, provide a vital connection for communities and reduce congestion on our busy roads”.
Hospitals and health facilities had the second largest allocation under the infrastructure investment allocations, with $13.8 billion for Hospitals and health facilities, an increase of 15.6% compared to the 2022-23 New South Wales budget. Significant investments are focused on the planning and delivery of new and upgraded hospital builds, including:
- $1.3 billion for the new Bankstown Hospital
- $1.0 billion for the Nepean Hospital and Integrated Ambulatory Services Stage 1 and 2
- $740.0 million for the Liverpool Health and Academic Precinct
The Educational sector was also a prime focus of the New South Wales budget, allocating $9.8 billion over the next 4 years. This allocation will support the delivery of 100 new and upgraded preschools, the biggest investment in public preschools in NSW history.
Regional schools aren’t left out of the equation. More than $1.4 billion over four years was dedicated to delivering new and upgraded schools for regional NSW, including a new permanent high school for Googong and an expansion of Jerrabomberra High School in the State’s southwest, together with a new high school in Medowie in the Hunter and an upgrade to Vincentia High School.
Projects being delivered in the educational sector include:
- $767.1 million invested into four new primary schools and 10 new high schools,
- Upgrades to Northmead Public School, The Ponds High School, Kingswood Public School, Katoomba High School, Jerrabomberra High School, and Eagle Vale High School.
OTHER PROJECTS UNDER REVIEW IN THE NEW SOUTH WALES BUDGET
In April 2023, the NSW Government commissioned an independent expert to undertake a review of the State’s infrastructure program. The review was commissioned in response to significant challenges facing the NSW infrastructure program.
Projects experience delays more often, and the construction industry’s capacity to deliver is challenged globally, while supply chain issues and skills shortages continue to be an issue. In response to this, the Government will delay or descope projects worth more than $2.5 billion, including:
- The Great Western Highway Duplication
- Ultimo Powerhouse Museum, and
- The Fast Rail Program
So overall, the latest New South Wales budget will see significant investments into infrastructure programs and initiatives, not just in the metropolitan area, but also in rural and regional NSW. Education, Health, and Transport were the main focus areas of the budget, as the government aims to create a stronger, more future-proof infrastructure industry for NSW and its residents.