THE Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed a new national audit by Infrastructure Australia that sees growth in "satellite" cities such as Newcastle as easing some of the congestion in Sydney and other capital cities.
The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit expands on work done in Infrastructure Australia's first national audit in 2015.
Business chamber chief executive Bob Hawes said the audit found that infrastructure in Sydney and other big capitals was failing to keep pace with rapid population growth, particularly on the urban fringes.
"The audit notes there is substantial capacity in satellite cities like Newcastle to grow by using legacy infrastructure and targeted upgrades," Mr Hawes said.
"It suggests governments can get value for money by investing in regional areas, where there is opportunity to support growth at a scale of additional investment significantly less than in the capital cities."
The release of the infrastructure audit comes as Premier Gladys Berejiklian is in London to support a post-Brexit trade arrangement with the UK, and to promote NSW as an investment destination.
Continuing the Coalition's development push in Western Sydney, the premier signed an agreement on Monday with British defence company BAE Systems for a "space and research centre" at the Western Sydney airport, which is due to start operations in 2026.
"The Aerotropolis [industrial park] we are building around the Western Sydney Airport is a great opportunity for firms around the world to invest in NSW," Ms Berejiklian said on Monday.
Ms Berejiklian described the Aerotropolis as "the home of Australia's future aerospace industry" and part of a government plan to creat 200,000 jobs in the area.
Despite the apparent competition with Newcastle Airport's aerospace aspirations, Mr Hawes saw the announcement as "complementing" BAE's existing operation at Williamtown, where it holds a number of contracts with the RAAF.
Mr Hawes said government spending turning Badgerys Creek from "a cow paddock" to an international airport showed the importance of infrastructure in attracting private business.
"As a region, we need to ensure that politicians and decision makers understand our regional priorities and take a long-term view that looks beyond short-term budgetary and funding cycles," Mr Hawes said.
A Newcastle Airport spokesperson said the NSW government had put nearly $12 million into the airport's new 76-hectare "defence and aerospace precinct", Astra Aerolab.
The spokesperson said 5500 people were employed at the airport and Williamtown RAAF, with expectations that number would more than double in the coming decade.
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