DUBBO'S high standard of infrastructure stands in good stead to attract more business opportunities, a leading infrastructure expert has said.
Chairman of Infrastructure NSW and former state Premier Nick Greiner led a discussion on the delivery of public infrastructure at the Dubbo RSL Club on Friday night.
More than 200 people attended the event hosted by four members of the Nationals, state MPs Troy Grant, Paul Toole and Kevin Humphries, and federal MP Mark Coulton.
Dubbo City Council councillor, John Walkom said Mr Greiner challenged those in the room to think outside the square to fund infrastructure in the state.
"The message is loud and clear: governments don't have the money to spend on large infrastructure projects," Mr Greiner said.
Currently there were two ways to pay for infrastructure. Either to increase taxes or a user-pay system such as tolls. Mr Greiner favoured the second option as no taxpayer wanted to pay more taxes.
However, he strongly suggested the best way was to "recycle assets" and called on the community to have a fresh thought on the sale of brown assets which included the electricity grid- poles and wires.
"He estimated its value to be $30 billion if it's sold and under the Restart NSW funds program, any asset sold, 30 per cent is committed to regional NSW," Cr Walkom said.
"That's almost $10 billion which would be injected into much needed infrastructure."
Mr Greiner believed the state government would not sell any assets unless it received a mandate after an election.
The member for Dubbo Troy Grant said future funding for infrastructure would be a challenge as there was "no magic money tree".
"There are significant issues with government debt, credit rating and the lack of revenue opportunities, not just in NSW but all over the world," he said.
Mr Greiner spoke about “pinch points” which were an impediment in road or rail in regional NSW. Cr Walkom said the area near the sale yards was a perfect example.
“If the B-double trucks want to come in the sale yards they currently have to come in to town and go around to do so,” he said.
“What needs to happen is to move the railway line which would improve safety and increase productivity.”
Mr Greiner said due to a lack of infrastructure investment over the years the state government was playing a game of catch up.
“What we’re doing now is not working,” he said.
Cr Walkom said Mr Greiner praised the council for its infrastructure and said this would attract more business opportunities.
“It’s inevitable that other airlines would come to Dubbo airport and service the community,” Mr Greiner told Cr Walkom.
As for the long-running debate on where Sydney should place its second airport, Mr Greiner gave a hint.
“Badgery Creek would be the airport in 20 years time,” he said.