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Ports sale cash will fix highways: Baird

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SYDNEY, Nov 22 AAP

November 22 2012, 09:16AM

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird says funds generated by privatisation of two NSW ports will be used on upgrades to the Pacific and Princes highways.

Legislation passed the upper house of state parliament on Wednesday night enabling the multi-billion dollar leasing of Port Botany and Port Kembla, after an agreement was struck with the Shooters Party over its duck hunting bill.

"Today is a landmark day for NSW," Mr Baird said on Thursday.

"We have secured support for a transaction which is critical to the future of this state."

Mr Baird said the long-term lease of the ports would unlock vital funds to address a backlog of road, school and hospital projects.

"In particular, funds released through the transactions will be used to match the commonwealth's funding offer on the Pacific Highway and to deliver further improvements to the Princes Highway," he said.

"The proceeds will also support the delivery of WestConnex and Bridges for the Bush projects."

Proceeds from the ports transactions would be invested in the NSW government's infrastructure fund, Restart NSW, with 30 per cent reserved for projects in regional areas, Mr Baird added.

Regulatory oversight of key areas of port adminstration will be retained by the government along with other port matters such as a price monitoring regime.

The NSW Greens and Labor opposition have described the deal to expand duck hunting in exchange for ports privatisation as putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

They say it shows the government is hostage to the Shooters and Fishers Party.