Northern NSW is set to share in more than $4 billion in regional infrastructure spending.
Northern NSW is set to share in more than $4 billion in regional infrastructure spending.

Budget 2018: Northern NSW set for infrastructure cash-splash

THE state government has ramped up efforts to boost growth in the state's north, announcing more than $4 billion worth of regional infrastructure spending in the NSW budget.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Tuesday handed down the government's 2018-19 budget, revealing a budget surplus of $3.9 billion and average surpluses of $1.6 billion forecast over the forward estimates.

For regional NSW, the highlight was the introduction of the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund Bill, which will enable $4.2 billion in proceeds from the Snowy Hydro Scheme to fund regional projects over coming years.

A total $40 million is allocated for "scoping studies" into potential projects that could be supported by the new fund, including examining the viability of inland ports and national and international freight services.

The government said money allocated from the new Snowy Hydro fund was on top of $1.3 billion for rural and regional infrastructure projects from the existing Regional Growth Fund.

"We said every cent of the full value of the Snowy deal would go to rural and regional NSW and today we absolutely confirm this commitment through legislation," Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said.

"The projects this fund will support will be big-picture ones, that reflect the legacy of the Snowy Hydro project itself."

In the state's north, the pre-election budget means a cash splash on health infrastructure, including $50 million to continue construction on Tweed Hospital and $16 million to redevelop the Grafton Ambulatory Care Centre.

Roads in the region will also get a facelift, with $62 million for construction of the extra bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton, $28 million for work on the Oxley Highway, $20 million for the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway bypass and $18 million to replace the Bruxner Highway bridge at Tabulam.

Tourism assets in northern NSW also get a boost. There's $7.5 million for the Trial Bay precinct upgrade on the Macleay Coast, $7.7 million over four years for the Tweed Hinterlands Walk and $1.7 million to revitalise Stuarts Point Foreshore.

Other funding pledges include a new Ballina High School and upgrades to public schools at Kingscliff and Murwillumbah.

Capacity at Kempsey correctional facility will also increase, with $124 million earmarked for 440 more beds.

Mr Perrottet said the budget demonstrated "unprecedented investment" in the state's country regions.

"This budget invests heavily in infrastructure, big and small, to make regional communities great places to live, now and into the future," he said.

"For families and farmers, from cultural infrastructure to cooler schools, sports grounds to sealed highways this is a budget that delivers for our regions."