Premier Gladys Berejiklian has promised to invest in rural infrastructure with the proceeds from the sale of the state's majority Snowy Hydro stake.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on March 2, 2018

NSW will receive around $4 billion under the federal government’s deal to buy its 58% stake in Snowy Hydro Limited.

The state’s premier Gladys Berejiklian said the injection of cash, which has to be spent on “productive infrastructure” that boosts the economy, would be invested in rural and regional projects.

“This will create an investment bonanza in regional NSW with every cent of the proceeds going to rural and regional NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said in a brief statement.

“Not only have we unlocked billions for infrastructure in the regions, but it paves the way for the nation-building Snowy 2.0 project.”

Victoria has also agreed to sell its shareholdings (29%) in the hydro-electric plant for approximately $2 billion, in an agreement that will increase the federal government’s ownership to 100% from its current 13% stake.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas says the Daniel Andrews-led government hasn’t committed to any specific projects, but the Melbourne Metro and Westgate Tunnel have been touted as two potential beneficiaries of the proceeds.

“This is a historic deal that is good for Victorian households and it’s good for our economy,” he said.

“It means that the Andrews Government can continue to build the historically high levels of infrastructure investment that we’ve come to expect year-on-year.”

‘We won’t privatise the Snowy Hydro’

Energy minister Josh Frydenberg has vowed not to sell the asset to a private buyer once it officially assumes total ownership.

“The Commonwealth is absolutely committed to keeping it in public hands. There’s no talk about anything different to that,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC Radio.

He also said it’s in the interests of future governments to retain ownership of the plant.

“Nobody can bind future governments but I don’t think it’s in the interests of any future governments, whatever their political persuasion, to do anything but keep this in public hands,” he added.

“It’s an iconic Australian asset.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was a win for all parties.

“The historic agreement will generate more reliable energy, cheaper electricity, better infrastructure and more jobs for NSW and Victoria,” he said in a statement on Thursday night.

Construction on the Snowy Mountains Scheme began in 1949, after the Commonwealth Parliament passed The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act.