The NSW government has hit back at accusations from Labor it has abandoned people in the bush, saying if Labor had its way there would be no money to fund regional and rural projects to begin with.
Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord on Wednesday announced his party would introduce an amendment bill in parliament requiring the government spend a minimum of 30 per cent of Restart NSW funding in rural and regional areas by 2022.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro hit back at the call - saying 29 per cent of the Restart NSW fund was already committed or reserved for regional and rural projects - with the promised 30 per cent total allocation to come over the fund's lifetime.
Mr Barilaro also pointed out that Labor had originally opposed the sale of assets that delivered the fund, saying if Mr Secord had "got his way, we would have an empty fund".
"The shadow treasurer has no plan to deal with the crippling drought in regional NSW and would prefer to spend his time playing politics," he said in a statement.
"My message to the shadow treasurer, who appears to be totally out of his depth, is this: you do more harm than good by bringing your divisive politics to regional NSW."
Restart NSW was set up to fund infrastructure projects across the state - including roads, water supply and sewerage services in country areas.
In a statement to announce Labor's upcoming bill the party claimed the government has "short-changed" regional and rural areas.
Mr Secord said while his party had originally been opposed to the sale of poles and wires - which released the funds for Restart - "that battle is over" and Labor was now committed to holding the government to account over its spending.
He referenced a report by the NSW auditor-general which found that in 2018-19 the Restart fund directed 19.6 per cent of payments towards rural and regional infrastructure - specifically noting this was less than 30 per cent of total payments.
"This is about providing critical infrastructure funding to our regional and rural communities, especially those confronting devastating drought and bushfires, high unemployment and summer heatwaves," Mr Secord said in his statement.
"The Berejiklian-Barilaro government is too Sydney-centric and has abandoned people in the bush and regional NSW."
Mr Secord said a large amount of Restart NSW money had flowed into city projects, leaving the government playing "catch-up" when it came to getting money into regional areas.
"Labor has heard consistently from rural and regional communities and councils across NSW that they feel let down and overlooked by this Liberal-National Government," he said.
"They need and deserve to have proper investment in core infrastructure to support local jobs and industry. Their under-spending and back-loading of regional and rural NSW's fair share of infrastructure funding is totally unacceptable."