The $100 million promised for the region as part of the controversial Port Kembla port lease is "locked in stone", NSW Treasurer Mike Baird said in Wollongong yesterday.
Mr Baird said the government would not go through with the leasing unless it delivered more than the port was worth.
And regardless of the amount any leaseholder pays, Mr Baird said the region would get the promised $100 million.
"The $100 million is locked in stone," Mr Baird said.
"The [price] range would probably be between $400 and 500 million but whatever we get, that $100 million is quarantined."
Mr Baird said the $100 million was funding over and above any other amount already promised to the region.
"There's been a lot of talk about how that will just be used to fund existing commitments," he said.
"I can give you this assurance - it will not.
"This is a golden opportunity. There is an extra $100 million coming to the region. Let's make sure to put that money towards something that's going to be good for generations to come across the Illawarra."
Mr Baird said the full price for the lease would be payable to the government as a lump sum at the start of the deal, an arrangement which meant the $100 million could be available for the Illawarra straight away.
The Treasurer declined to specify what project would receive the funding, saying the government would consult with local councils and Infrastructure NSW to find an appropriate use for the money.
It is unlikely that the money would be put towards the construction of the Maldon-Dombarton rail line, which is crucial for the expansion of the port.
Mr Baird said the government was interested in looking at the recommendation of this week's Infrastructure NSW report that it be largely funded by the private sector.
He said that any private leaseholder would take over the development commitments already signed off by the government.
He added that he felt the continued development of the port would not be put at risk.
‘‘If someone pays for a 99-year lease, there is not going to be a day that they’re not going to be trying to maximise throughput,’’ he said.
‘‘It is beyond comprehension that someone would pay the money for doing it and then not bother to try and maximise it.
‘‘They won’t have the constraints of the balance sheet that the state government has. There’s a capacity to bring forward investment to generate returns and that throughput, and they will do it.
‘‘And they’ll do it in a quicker way than the state government can.’’
Earlier this week, the Wollongong City Council Port Kembla Working Group wrote to Mr Baird, Premier Barry O’Farrell, Ports Minister Duncan Gay and Minister for the Illawarra Greg Pearce to invite them to address a public meeting about the leasing.
Mr Baird said someone would be attending.
‘‘There will be someone from the government here and we’ll be very happy to respond to the questions that are put,’’ Mr Baird said.
‘‘I’m very happy to discuss this in any forum because I genuinely believe this is in everyone’s interests. It’s in the employees’ interests, it’s in the port’s interests, the community’s interests and the state’s interests.''