NSW Libs promise convention-led recovery

To ensure construction can start as soon as possible after the state election, the NSW Liberals and Nationals will immediately commission a feasibility study, release “shadow” expressions of interest and appoint a three-person expert panel to oversee the initial procurement stages.Industry groups including Sydney Business Chamber, Property Council of Australia, Tourism Transport Forum, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and Australian Tourism Export Council will oversee the independent feasibility study. “I acknowledge starting the process from Opposition is unusual, but it simply reflects the fact we are determined about starting the work to improve this state from the moment we’re elected, should we be successful at next year’s election,” O’Farrell said.Shadow Minister for Tourism, Hospitality and Major Events George Souris said that just last week Sydney missed out on a United Nations conference involving 90 countries and 1200 delegates that went to Melbourne instead.“It is estimated that Sydney’s convention and exhibition industry is losing the financial equivalent of one Rugby World Cup every year due to a lack of convention and exhibition facilities,” he said. “The under-provision of convention and exhibition facilities will cost Sydney $477 million in economic activity and 3037 jobs each year.“The NSW Liberals and Nationals will not prescribe sites to be considered, that will be up to the Sydney Conference Facility Expert Panel.”Shadow Treasurer Mike Baird said the feasibility study would also identify an appropriate funding model and the impact on the NSW government finances. The feasibility study will be completed by the second half of 2010. “Tourism and conventions are a major economic boost to this state,” Baird said.“It is estimated that a six-day international conference for approximately 2000 delegates contributes an average $9 million to the economy.“With the NSW economy limping as one of the poorest performers in the country, conventions and exhibitions could and should provide a shot in the state’s financial arm.”Brendan Lyon, executive director of public-private partnership lobby group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, said a well-run, well-executed PPP for a convention centre would be a welcome first step towards the state recapturing its credibility in infrastructure delivery.“In our 2007 major report, we identified the need for new conferencing infrastructure as one of this state’s most important infrastructure priorities,” Lyon said. “That’s why it’s particularly encouraging that the Opposition recognise the value of this kind of project.”

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