NSW Treasurer speaks on securing the economic future of NSW

Published: 27 Sep 2016

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird presented an optimistic report-card on the state's economy to business leaders in the residential and commercial building sector.

"I do think there is a good news story for NSW," Mr Baird told the Master Builders Association Top 50 Builders luncheon at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre.

"My role is not to be bullish, but (with) where we sit today, compared to where we were 12 months and 24 months ago, there are a lot more reasons to be optimistic."

Mr Baird noted an improvement in the residential construction sector following the Government's introduction of the First Home Owners Scheme in 2012, and its extension in the Budget last month.

Meanwhile he said the non-residential construction sector was responding to the Government’s infrastructure program, which will total nearly $60 billion over the next four years.

"As cranes start to appear across the city and across the state, there are good signs that the builders are doing well, the economy is starting to move, and NSW as a whole is on the move," he said.

But Mr Baird said that, in order for vital infrastructure to be delivered, it was important to take heed of advice from Infrastructure Australia chair Sir Rod Eddington, and for the states to recycle their capital into new assets.

As an example, he offered the recent lease of Port Botany and Port Kembla, which released net proceeds to taxpayers of $4.3 billion.

Out of those proceeds, among other projects, the O'Farrell Government will be able to fund its commitment to the WestConnex motorway, as well as directing an additional $100 million towards infrastructure projects in the Illawarra.

"We've released capital, we're paid down debt, and at the same time we're putting it into future infrastructure for the state," Mr Baird said.

"Rather than have announcements, you have the money sitting in an account – it’s going to get done."

With an ambitious infrastructure program underway, Mr Baird stressed the importance of the Government's new construction guidelines, which are designed to prevent cost blowouts following federal Labor's ill-advised abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

"We didn’t stand idly by," Mr Baird said in relation to the abolition of the ABCC.

"We weren’t going to let the federal minister just dictate to the states and to our builders.

"The Government will stand side by side with you.

"We're not asking for anything other than reasonable terms and conditions to deliver fair value in the infrastructure in this state."

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