Treasurer backs coal exports and open to nuclear power

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has supported the idea of nuclear power at a Budget Estimates inquiry - putting him at odds with Premier Gladys Berejiklian who said on Wednesday "it's not something that I would support".

Mr Perrottet under questioning on Thursday also said the NSW Department of Planning needed to speed up its project approval process to turbo charge the economy and said the Metro West was on track to open in the mid-2020s.

The Treasurer told the annual Budget Estimates inquiry that nuclear power should be explored as an option to help secure our state's energy future.

"One of the biggest challenges we will find is energy for the decades to come, and it's a complete travesty given the resources that we have that we have some of the highest energy prices in the world," Mr Perrottet said.

"On nuclear, I think the federal government should be looking at it, I'm not an expert in nuclear energy, what I would say, is it's something the government needs to be looking at, and not just putting it off the table for ideological reasons of the past."

During the two hours of questioning by Upper House MPs Mr Perrottet admitted the lengthy planning approvals process in NSW needed to be improved.

"Whether it's building a school, a road or a hospital, we have planning obviously as part of that," he said.

"In order to improve productivity and drive economic growth, we need to improve planning."

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet pictured at the 2019-2020 Budget Estimates Hearing held at NSW Parliament in Sydney. Picture: Richard Dobson
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet pictured at the 2019-2020 Budget Estimates Hearing held at NSW Parliament in Sydney. Picture: Richard Dobson

Mr Perrottet also took a swipe Labor's ICAC struggles this week - where ICAC heard $100,000 in cash had been presented to the NSW Labor head office in a plastic Aldi shopping bag in 2015.

"Money doesn't grow on trees, there's not an Aldi bag at the end of the rainbow that I can reach into to fund infrastructure projects," Mr Perrottet said.

The Treasurer said the Metro West project was on track to open in the mid-2020s but acknowledged it was in the "preliminary stages" with more than $6 billion currently allocated to the project.

"I can guarantee you the NSW government, regardless of a federal government contribution, is completely committed to building Metro West," Mr Perrottet said.

He also talked up the NSW coal sector and said royalties from coal exports are expected to be stable at about $2 billion each year over the forward estimates.

"I wouldn't expect to see any financial change (to the $2 billion estimate) … there are great opportunities now and into the future for the continuation of exporting coal," Mr Perrottet said.

"I get frustrated as Treasurer with the demonising of the exporting of coal … these royalties are funds which pay for police, nurses and teachers."

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet at the 2019-2020 Budget Estimates Hearing held at NSW Parliament in Sydney. Picture: Richard Dobson
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet at the 2019-2020 Budget Estimates Hearing held at NSW Parliament in Sydney. Picture: Richard Dobson