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A faster rail line from Sydney to Newcastle will be a key pledge to NSW voters in the federal budget on Tuesday night in a $3.3 billion package of new and expanded projects across the state.
The rail project will receive $1 billion in federal funding to match the same amount from the NSW state government in a plan to upgrade stations at Wyong and Tuggerah, build dual-track rail bridges over the Wyong River and double capacity on that section of the line.
The federal government will pledge $1 billion for faster rail line between Sydney and Newcastle.CREDIT:RHETT WYMAN
The budget measures will also include $336 million to expand a single-lane section of the Pacific Highway into dual carriageway at the Wyong town centre, highlighting the federal government’s focus on voters in the key electorates around the Central Coast.
The list of about 30 projects for NSW will come with a $3.3 billion estimate for the additional federal commitment to new and existing plans, in line with the same amount being offered to Victoria but significantly below the $3.9 billion pledged to Queensland.
The new budget measures include $95.6 million for the Picton Road and Picton Bypass at the Hume Highway at Wilton, south of Sydney, an area with major housing developments built or underway.
Voters in northern Sydney will be promised an upgrade to the Wakehurst Parkway with a $75 million pledge to improve the road at Frenchs Forest.
The plans include $77.5 million for the business case for the Sydney Metro to run from Glenfield to Leppington, just north of Oran Park, and on to the Western Sydney Airport.
The budget plans also comprise $264 million to upgrade the Newell Highway north of Moree, $232.5 million for improvements to Mulgoa Road south of Penrith and $16.5 million to plan greater flood resilience around the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers.
In the south of the state, the budget includes $100 million for the new Southern Connector Road around Jindabyne, part of a wider plan for the road to the Snowy Mountains to bypass the centre of town and upgrade the lake foreshore.
The federal budget will also comprise tax and spending measures to deal with rising costs including changes to fuel excise worth 44 cents per litre at the petrol pump.
“We know this is biting and that we’ve done the homework and spent the time to get the right design on the packages to support Australians right now when it comes to cost of living pressures,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while campaigning in Perth on Sunday.
Labor treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers dismissed the coming budget as “spakfilla” that would try to smooth over the cracks in the government’s economic plan when inflation was eroding wages.
“So much of what the government is proposing is just taking a problem and pushing it from one side of the election to the other,” he said on Sunday.
With Mr Morrison trying to shore up the government’s vote in key marginal seats in NSW, the budget package includes an additional $352 million for the Princes Highway at Milton and Ulladulla to bypass the two towns in the key marginal seat of Gilmore.
The Labor MP for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, has called for faster work to build the bypass and the Liberal candidate for the seat, former state transport minister Andrew Constance, has told voters he wants the project built quickly with “no compromise” on the southern end, so it runs west of Burrill Lake village.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is trying to shore up the government’s vote in key marginal seats in NSW.CREDIT:RENEE NOWYTARGER
As the single biggest new initiative in the package, the $1 billion pledge for the rail line to Newcastle gives the government a key pitch to voters in the Hunter region as well as on the Central Coast, where the plans are meant to improve reliability on the section between Tuggerah and Wyong.
Tuggerah and Wyong are in the federal seat of Dobell, held by Labor’s Emma McBride by a margin of 1.5 per cent and a key target for Mr Morrison if he is to add to his majority of two seats in the House of Representatives.
One of Mr Morrison’s allies in Parliament, the Liberal Party’s Lucy Wicks, holds the neighbouring seat of Robertson, which includes Gosford, Woy Woy and Terrigal, by a margin of 4.2 per cent, making her seat a key target for Labor in its bid to gain at least eight seats and form government.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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