NSW Roads Minister Natalie Ward has defended a record $8 billion of government capital expenditure slipping into future financial years.
She attributed the failure on supply chain problems linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NSW budget estimates were told on Monday that a record $8 billion of 2022/23 capital works announced in June’s budget would “slip” into future years.
On Wednesday, Labor’s John Graham suggested to Ms Ward that out of $30.6 billion in infrastructure spend earmarked for this financial year, $8 billion would fail to be spent in the period.
“Do you have any perspective you want to share on that observation?” Mr Graham asked.
After a terse exchange in which Ms Ward tried to refer the question to Treasury officials, she said the government had “a large pipeline of projects, obviously those projects are staged”.
There was “no surprise” in the $8 billion capital slippage figure, she said.
“It’s printed in the budget paper to recognise the challenges we have with global headwinds and labour supply challenges with the issues of securing enough people to build multiple large mega infrastructure projects,” she said.
“There’s no change to our program.”
The hearing was told that most of the delays would come in the road portfolio, with Ms Ward asked which roads projects would be delayed in FY23.
“It’s a matter for the Treasury … what we are clear about is that we have pipeline of projects that we are rolling out they are transparent about their timelines,” she said.
“You can’t continue to deliver mega projects if you don’t have supply, if you don’t have enough people to build it. We’ve had two years of COVID shutdowns.”
Treasury officials on Monday told estimates that capital slippage had never been as high, attributing it to market and delivery constraints in the COVID-19 pandemic.