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COMMUTERS will have to wait until at least 2020 to benefit from the WestConnex and North West Rail Link.
Despite the wait, work on the $10 billion motorway from Strathfield to Beverly Hills via the airport will start well before the next state election in 2015, helped by the $1.8 billion already pledged by Premier Barry O'Farrell, Infrastructure NSW chairman Nick Greiner said.
Mr Greiner again urged the government to sell the $10- billion-to-$15-billion electricity poles and wires, telling Labor thinktank the McKell Institute that privatisation would not only build infrastructure, it would reduce power prices.
He said former Labor premier Bob Carr and his then treasurer Michael Egan were right to try to sell the assets in 1997, a move defeated by the Electrical Trades Union, a body Mr Greiner said had done more to damage the state than any other organisation.
Mr Greiner said the former Labor government had spent "billions and billions" on power reliability upgrades which had driven up prices but only increased reliability from "99.6 to 99.8 per cent".
"The North West Rail line and the WestConnex, all things being equal, I don't think we'll be seeing them in the ground until 2020, 2021, 2022," he said. "And that's assuming everything goes well.
"The reality of that ... between now and about two or three elections from now ... rail lines happening, WestConnex happening ... (but) we'll probably start building well before the next election." Mr Greiner said of his Infrastructure NSW plan released last week that "one of the weakest areas was western Sydney" and there had been a lack of new ideas to develop the area. One solution, he said, was to end the "unity ticket" between both sides of politics in not wanting to build an airport at Badgerys Creek.
"You cannot ever have a city of six million people which has one airport stuck at one end," he said, again putting himself at odds with Mr O'Farrell.
"I think a second airport, if we're serious about western Sydney and its future ... the average person in western Sydney overwhelmingly ought to be in favour of an airport at Badgerys Creek. Your grandchildren, especially if you live in western Sydney, want and need (a second airport)."
Mr Greiner said full electricity privatisation in NSW and QLD would match Victoria and complete the national energy market.
This article first appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au
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