$100m 'missing' in Hunter budget allocation

NSW Minerals Council chief Stephen Galilee has challenged the NSW Government over $100million in resources for regions funds still missing from budget allocations to the Hunter.

The challenge comes after Muswellbrook and Singleton councils indicated yesterday they would consider increasing rates on mine lands to pay for infrastructure projects that had not been funded under resources for regions.

While $9.9million for Muswellbrook hospital and some Singleton road projects was pleasing, the government was a long way from fulfilling an election promise expected to deliver $112million in resources for regions funds to the Upper Hunter during this government, Mr Galilee said.

In February last year the NSW government promised resources for regions funding for communities coping with the pressures of living close to major coalmines, with the bulk of the money expected to go to Upper Hunter coal areas.

In September last year Upper Hunter councils cried foul after the budget failed to deliver any resources for regions funds.

Yesterday, Mr Galilee said the $9.9million in projects delivered in the budget were welcomed, but the mining industry believed resources for regions funding was for infrastructure projects associated with mining, such as roads and rail.

The hospital upgrade was necessary, but hospital upgrades in other areas had been funded through health budgets.

The Singleton projects were a bridge at Broke and intersection works unrelated to mining.

Mr Galilee said councils in mine-affected areas needed to have a say in how resources for regions funding was spent.

Muswellbrook Shire Council had advised the government that the Muswellbrook hospital upgrade was a priority project for the area, but the Thomas Mitchell Drive upgrade was its priority project under resources for regions.

Minister for Regional Infrastructure Andrew Stoner said the $160million resources for regions initiative, administered by Infrastructure NSW, was committed to rebuilding infrastructure NSW.

Upper Hunter MP George Souris directed calls on resources for regions to Mr Stoner.

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