Ahead of the Snowy Region Construction and Development Conference, we sat down with The Hon. John Barilaro MP, Deputy Premier of NSW and Leader of the NSW Nationals, to discuss the potential impact of Snowy 2.0, and how the Government is supporting the development of the region.
Snowy Hydro 2.0 is set to provide a massive economic boost to the Snowy-Monaro and surrounding regions. How is the NSW Government supporting this project?
The NSW Government has declared Snowy 2.0 to be state significant infrastructure. This classification recognises that Snowy 2.0 is a critical, game-changing energy project that is essential for economic and energy security reasons. As the Member for Monaro my key focus for Government is to ensure that our community benefits from the project flow, not just during construction, but well into the future, ensuring a lasting legacy. The NSW Government is working closely with the Federal Government and local stakeholders to monitor progress and proactively identify challenges and opportunities. Snowy 2.0 is great news for the Monaro, and the NSW Government is in a prime position to ensure we reap the benefits of Snowy 2.0 locally.
What is the NSW Government doing to ensure the greater Southern region is prepared for the rapid growth surrounding Snowy Hydro 2.0 and associated infrastructure works
The Snowy 2.0 project represents a growth opportunity for the Snowy region, but it will be important to manage its impacts. The project workforce will grow from a small base in year one of 200 and is estimated to reach 1,000-2,000 at peak times, creating opportunities for local businesses across the region. A number of plans are in place to support growth. I recently announced $18.6 million for upgrades to Cooma Hospital, including a new maternity ward, significantly upgraded emergency department and refurbished entry and patient waiting areas. To cope with increased road traffic, there are ongoing upgraded to the region’s arterial roads as well as financial support for local roads. Ensuring our community is properly educated and able to partake and benefit from Snowy 2.0 is a core priority, with multimillion upgrades for schools across the region, including Monaro High School.
The sale of the NSW Government’s stake in the scheme has also unlocked billions in funding for future projects in regional towns and centres. Earlier in the year, we legislated to make sure that 100 per cent of the proceeds of the sale are directed towards transformative projects in the regions, through the $4.2 Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund. With all government eyes on the Snowy region, there has never been a better time for our communities to build a case for further investment, and as the local member, I will work with stakeholders to do so.
The NSW Government recently announced $1 million for a feasibility study into the proposed Canberra – Eden railway. What impact might this project have on the region, and how does it fit in to the Government’s long-term development plan for regional NSW?
The recently announced $1 million feasibility study into a proposed Canberra to Eden railway will examine re-opening the Canberra to Bombala railway, and extending the line to the Eden, providing rail links to Canberra Airport and the Port of Eden for the first time. A railway between the international gateway centres of Canberra and the Port of Eden would provide greater access to national and international tourism and market exports, and open up significant economic potential within the Monaro and broader south east NSW.
The ability to move local produce to Canberra Airport’s freight hub and the Port of Eden will better connect the agricultural industry to export markets, and would be a game changer for the Monaro.
The NSW Government announced priority energy zones in the New England, Central West, and Southern West regions in a submission for AEMO’s Integrated System Plan – would the NSW Government also support such an energy zone in greater Snowy region?
The identification of these specific regions doesn’t preclude other potential energy zones from being identified across the state in the future. By granting the Snowy 2.0 project critical State Significant Infrastructure status, the NSW Government has shown that the project is absolutely a high priority.
You can hear more on what the NSW Government is doing to promote rapid growth and development in the area at the Snowy Region Construction & Development Conference 14-15 November in Cooma.