Regional NSW will receive $1 billion to combat drought, boost tourism and build roads in next week’s state budget.
It includes $110 million for a new tourism infrastructure fund for towns to upgrade airports, develop cruise facilities and build “rail trails” – disused railways that are turned into paths for walking, cycling and horse riding.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that NSW Nationals leader Andrew Stoner announced the measures at the party’s annual conference in Queanbeyan on Friday.
Mr Stoner told the conference the past few weeks “have been tough”, following divisive debate within the Nationals over privatising the state’s “poles and wires” electricity assets.
Regional NSW could receive $6 billion from a purported $20 billion to be reaped from the sale of mostly metropolitan assets if the Coalition is returned at the March election.
Mr Stoner said the tourism funding would help create jobs and boost the state’s economy.
One of the first projects likely to be funded is a rail trail between Casino and Murwillumbah, which would “become a major tourist attraction that will draw tens of thousands of visitors,” Mr Stoner said.
Projects making up the rest of the $1 billion will be revealed in the budget next week.
This specific reference of rail trails gives hope that the NSW government will soon announce how disused government rail corridors wil be made available for the development of rail trails, to allow this funding to be invested in these regions.