Snowy Hydro cash to be spent on schools, infrastructure

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley said his party would build a public primary school on this patch of lawn in Googong. From left, Luke Foley, and Labor candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson. Photo: Jamila Toderas

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley said his party would build a public primary school on this patch of lawn in Googong. From left, Luke Foley, and Labor candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The NSW opposition wants to spend cash from the potential sale of the Snowy Hydro on schools across Queanbeyan.

In the federal budget announced last week, the Coalition government proposed to buy the state’s 58 per cent share in the power stations valued between $3.6-$5 billion.

State opposition leader Luke Foley said he supported the sale and promised he would spend it solely on developing regional NSW.

The population growth in the region had increased the need for schools in Jerrabomberra and Googong, while reports of schools being under resourced in Queanbeyan suggested a need for funding.

Labor’s Bryce Wilson plans to challenge Monaro’s John Barilaro in the next state election and said his party would build a public school in Googong if elected.

“The Googong residents have been really clear to me … they really would like a public school and they want it now,” he said.

Currently, the Anglican School Googong was the only school in the area, and Mr Wilson said it was important to provide diversity in education.

"If parents want to send their kids to the Anglican school then that's fine, but what I want to make if I'm the member for Monaro is make sure every school is a great school.”

Deputy premier Mr Barilaro said there was already a plan in place to construct a school in the new township.

“The NSW government has a timeline for the school's development. The timeline is determined by population growth,” he said.

He said the government needs to work with the Anglican School Googong about when it plans to be built.

Mr Foley said regional communities across the state were “crying out for infrastructure”.

"All of the four to five billions dollars [the NSW government] receives ought to be allocated to building schools, hospitals, roads and water security infrastructure across regional NSW."

The NSW government does not need legislation to pass the state's parliament for the sale to proceed.

Mr Barilaro said the government had set up a $6 billion reserve for regions from proceeds of its poles and wires sell-off.

Since 2011 the government had kept 30 per cent of cash raised from all asset sales for infrastructure in the bush, he said.

Regional NSW would receive the same percentage of cash raised from the Snowy Hydro sale, and the government would also look at directing money to a local fund, Mr Barilaro said.

The NSW government was working out the sale's details with the federal Coalition, which needed its own valuation of the Snowy Hydro scheme.

Mr Barilaro said he would prefer regional NSW received 30 per cent of all state asset transactions than 100 per cent from one sale. 

He expected a clearer timeline for the construction of a school in Googong would emerge in the next six months.

With Doug Dingwall

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