Regional New South Wales’ first special activation precinct which would include an inland port in Parkes will create jobs and enable agricultural value-adding, bringing regional suppliers closer to their markets, thanks to a strategic investment by the NSW Government.

The announcement was made by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro today when he unveiled the NSW Government’s comprehensive 20-year economic vision for a thriving regional NSW. The vision highlights engine industries to accelerate state-wide economic growth, priority actions and a framework for future investment that will guide the allocation of funding from the new $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund.

“Today we are putting our money where our mouth is, announcing that the first allocation of money from the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund will be spent investigating and planning for a special activation precinct including an inland port in Parkes,” Mr Barilaro said.

“A special activation precinct would offer a coordinated approach to land use and infrastructure planning, and attract major employers, drive local economies and create jobs across the Central West.

“Special activation precincts is just one part of the vision and the beginning of a massive program of work to transform regional NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

The funds will be invested in identifying how best to deliver an economic special activation precinct and inland port in Parkes, to take advantage of its location on the Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail, and facilitate agricultural value-adding, allowing local products to be delivered more efficiently across Australia and around the world. A business case for investment will be finalised within twelve months.

Parkes Shire Council General Manager Kent Boyd welcomed the announcement and congratulated the State government’s 20-year vision for regional NSW and its commitment to such a rapid timetable for delivery.

“Parkes is already experiencing heightened interest from logistics firms and other industry around the Parkes National Logistic Hub, encompassing land adjacent to the existing East-West rail line and the proposed Inland Rail route. The special activation precinct and inland port will attract further major employers, driving the regional economy and creating jobs across the Central West and neighbouring regions.

“This special activation precinct around the Parkes National Logistic Hub is the realisation of a long-term community vision that has been top-of-mind since the railway went through Parkes in the 1800s. It is our region's Snowy 3.0 and will have the same impact to that the Snowy Hydro Scheme had for our nation in the 1950s,” Mr Boyd said.

“Sixty-five per cent of produce leaves this region without any value-adding and is priced based on the world market, forcing producers to accept low market prices. The Parkes inland port and special activation precinct opens up the opportunity for the Central West to access higher value markets, enabling our farmers to be price makers, not price takers, which is especially important during challenging times such as the current drought.”

Mr Boyd said today’s announcement perfectly complemented the Federal Government's commitment to Inland Rail which had led already to new investment in Parkes, with business seeing the potential in locating close to a major national transport node.

"The Inland Rail has a 50-100 year planning horizon and it is incumbent on us to plan with similar horizons to ensure the opportunity for our region is not diminished by short-sighted planning.

"The local Parkes community has been well aware we have been planning the Parkes National Logistics Hub for decades, because geographically, it is suited to be a key node for a national logistics network; but now the word is getting out across the country and internationally. We are experiencing unprecedented interest in Parkes including National and International inquiries. I said at the recent national rail conference in Parkes we were on the verge of something big and that has been strengthened today by the NSW Government’s commitment,” Mr Boyd said.