There was a lot of hoopla about the release yesterday of the 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy and there has been plenty of talk in the lead-up to this document.
The test will be in what the state government is now prepared to take on and fund and build.
It is not a document that needs to be some empty book of promises and proposals left undone largely because the government says its budgetary or financial constraints preclude it.
Barry O’Farrell has the opportunity to seize the moment and the opportunity to put his stamp and that of his government on this state and its future.
He needs to be brave, he needs to be financially responsible, he needs to accept that while some of the conservatives and the driest-of-the-dries in Liberal ranks will bang on about fiscal prudence and the need to keep the state’s loan repayments down low, he has to act and at least spend some money and do the things, undertake the projects, that matter.
Fiscal debt in itself is not a wholly bad thing when it comes to government. This state government needs to accept that it is not a business that is there to make money as its prime focus. It essentially is a government that needs to ensure it delivers the most essential of services to its residents, like education, like health, like the infrastructure this economy and this community needs to move forward.
The Infrastructure NSW plan released yesterday outlined some 70 projects it recommends be built in the next 20 years.
Some have already noted that this is in essence former one-time Liberal premier Nick Greiner’s plan. Now we need Barry O’Farrell’s plan, his undertaking that he will consider, investigate and move on with more than just the couple he has already committed to.
At first glance, the strategy is, of course, metro-centric, with heavy emphasis on motorway expansions and critical links, billion-dollar projects designed to better move traffic and commuters around Sydney.
There’s no dispute that Sydney needs to get its act together when it comes to roads and traffic routes and resources – it’s a shambles now and most country people loathe going near it for the gridlocks and sheer dread it generates in anyone.
But, despite that, the bush needs infrastructure investment too. Local governments can value add to what the state government plans.