The creation of a “world-class” business precinct at Bomen could generate as many as 6000 new jobs in the next 20 years, according to Deputy Premier John Barilaro.
The Nationals leader, who is also the Minister for Regional NSW, on Tuesday announced that Bomen would become the second Special Activation Precinct to be set up in regional NSW after Parkes.
These new precincts are being developed to cut red tape, streamline processes and encourage business development and jobs growth.
“Bomen estate will become a freight and logistics port that capitalises on the Inland Rail and operates as a manufacturing and agribusiness precinct for local business and draws business from interstate into regional NSW.,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Businesses that set themselves up in the Wagga Special Activation Precinct will have access to new industrial roads, freight rail links, digital connectivity, a fast-tracked planning process and the certainty of being located in a government precinct.
“We want to grow regional NSW and you need to do that through the private sector. There is significant investment ready to go in regional NSW,” the Deputy Premier said.
The announcement by Mr Barilaro comes after an announcement during the 2018 Wagga byelection campaign that the government would provide $14.4 million to pay for a 5.8-kilometre rail siding at Bomen.
Just days earlier, it was announced Visy Logistics agreed to build and run a freight centre, with work due to start this year.
A separate application by council for $21 million in funding for an industrial subdivision at Bomen has yet to be finalised.
Mr Barilaro said the new project did not hinge on the outcome of the March state election.
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said the announcement would affect Wagga for generations to come.
“This is one of the most significant announcements that has been made as far as Wagga is concerned,” Councillor Conkey said.
“This announcement not only affects the city of Wagga, it affects the whole region, places such as Junee, Coolamon and Temora.
“This will make it a lot easier and cheaper for industries to establish here in Bomen, as well as for existing industries to expand.
“It’s going to cut that red tape and going to be the driving force behind this community for years and years and years to come.”
Julie Briggs, the CEO of the Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils, said the plan would fast-track development in Wagga, with a flow-on effect across the region.
“These kinds of initiatives recognise the importance of regional development. Governments do need to be very active in this space by creating environments that foster growth,” Mrs Briggs said.
Member for Wagga Joe McGirr welcomed the announcement, which he described as real boost for growth.
“Hopefully what it will mean is that the next $28 million that the council have asked for will come on line very quickly,” Dr McGirr said.
Dan Hayes, the Labor candidate for the seat of Wagga in the upcoming state election, said the announcement was a great result for the city and “made sense”.
However, Mr Hayes, who is also a Wagga councillor, remained critical of “wastage” on projects like the Sydney CBD light rail development, when this money could have been directed to regional NSW.
“We need to keep pushing for the funding what’s needed at Bomen and the budget blow-outs could have easily covered that,” Mr Hayes said.
Tim Rose, the managing director of Bomen-based Southern Oils, said he welcomed anything that got government “out of the way” of the private sector.
“A commitment to reducing red tape and streamlining processes for planning and processing approvals is all about giving the business community a fair go,” he said.
While in the city on Tuesday, Mr Barilaro also announced funding of $739,466 for a walking trail and other work at the Wagga Botanic Gardens.
The planned walking trail will link the Botanic Gardens with the Willans Hill site of the Museum of the Riverina, which is being upgraded.