Nationals to let poles and wires be leased

ESSENTIAL Energy will be quarantined from the State's electricity infrastructure sell-off after a long and tense party room meeting.

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, who was opposed to the sale of the State's poles and wires said the Nationals had been able to "negotiate a compromise that will see a significant benefit for regional people".

Under the deal, Essential Energy, which covers around 90% of the State's land mass will remain in public hands. The other 49% of the distribution and transmission network will be put out for a 99-year lease expected to raise $20 billion for the State. Of that, 30% will be earmarked for regional infrastructure.

Premier Mike Baird and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner said the package includes a $1 billion Regional Roads Fund, a $1 billion Regional Water Fund and a statewide $2 billion Schools and Hospitals Building Fund.

"This is a once in a generation opportunity to secure the long-term future of communities right across our great State," Mr Baird said.

"The centrepiece of the package is a series of future funds to build and upgrade hospitals, schools, roads and water infrastructure throughout regional NSW.

"This injection will ensure regional communities get access to world-class infrastructure, as well as creating jobs in regional areas and securing a pipeline of investment."

Lismore MP Thomas George said it was "the best deal we could come out with" and it would only go ahead if the Liberals and Nationals were re-elected in March.

Opposition leader John Robertson called it a bad deal for NSW families because it would drive up prices and deprive the State of $1 billion in revenue every year.

"Mike Baird is trying to sell the people of NSW a lemon - the community knows instinctively that a private company will not spend billions of dollars buying our electricity network to cut power bills for families," Mr Robertson said.

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