New South Wales sets out infrastructure privatisation plans to progress fast rail

Out-Law News | 06 May 2021 | 11:08 am | 1 min. read

The New South Wales (NSW) government in Australia is renewing its focus on privatisation in order to finance increased investment in infrastructure projects.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian set out plans for investment in fast rail to reduce travel time between Sydney and regional NSW centres, without waiting for consensus from federal or other state governments.

Speaking at an infrastructure summit organised by the Sydney Morning Herald, Berejiklian said the fast rail project could be funded through asset recycling, where public assets are sold or leased to the private sector and the resulting income used for new projects.

Berejiklian said asset recycling could be used to convert “something that might not be very creative and active on the balance sheet” into projects including rail, road, schools and hospitals. She suggested the NSW government will continue to use privatisation to increase infrastructure investment in coming years.

Construction experts Adam Perl and Jason Feng of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said the government’s commitment to delivering infrastructure was an encouraging sign for the construction industry.

The government previously sold a majority stake in electricity assets in 2017, and has proposed the sale of its minority share of the Westconnex motorway.

The NSW fast rail project was first mooted in 2018 when the government released a 20-year economic vision for the rural parts of the state, which includes proposals for better connectivity between regional centres, cities and international gateways. The fast rail project would see the construction of four rail corridors with Sydney as the hub.

The government appointed Andrew McNaughton, also technical director to the UK’s High Speed 2 project, to lead an expert panel to provide advice on how to best deliver a fast rail network in NSW.