11 September 2019

With Hunter Water about to follow Singleton and the Upper Hunter to introduce low level water restrictions from this month, it’s timely to be conscious of our impact on the environment and conversely, the impact our environment has on us.

Our local government area was built on natural resources, with our roots planted in agriculture and now extending into viticulture and coal mining - industries reliant, of course, on the availability of water. But with no end in sight for the drought we are currently experiencing and restrictions in place for how and when water can be used around the home, we find a new angle on the conversation around economic diversification and indeed, the future of our area.

The future of coal dominates national and even international discussions. But consideration must be given for those areas literally at the coalface, where decisions made in high rise board rooms actually hit home. And that means impacts for our towns and villages.

Singleton Council is currently renewing our Advocacy Agenda following on from the State and Federal elections this year, but our top priorities haven’t changed. We continue to call for a commitment to addressing post-mining land use, economic development and community planning to ensure that as the industry focus changes, our environment can change with it. That means appropriate action now for post-mining land use for the benefit of our natural landscape, as well as a smooth economic transition to ensure the continued prosperity of our community.

To that end, we’re also committed to following up the Deputy Premier’s promise for reforms to the Resources for Regions program, with a fairer allocation of mining proceeds to support infrastructure in the areas that produce them.

We want to continue to meet our community’s expectations when it comes to a sustainable approach to waste management and recycling, and that means government and industry support for a viable solution to recycling issues in the wake of China’s National Sword Policy. In another example of international decisions that directly impact local communities, leadership is required now to mitigate the impacts of changes to the global market for recycled material so that it can be a resource, rather than landfill.

And of course, we are unwavering in our calls for the construction of a bypass of the New England Highway at Singleton, a new police station to better serve the towns and villages of our local government area and more passenger rail services to give our residents greater freedom to access services and facilities in neighbouring Maitland and Newcastle and beyond.

But it’s all reliant on government support. There have been a few spots of rain in Council’s ongoing campaign to knock on doors in Macquarie Street following positive conversations with the Deputy Premier and meetings most recently with the Opposition Leader Jodi McKay and Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren. But just as we hope for good soaking rain to replenish our dams and farmland, so too the climatic conditions within the NSW Government also mean the difference between grey clouds or sunshine for our area into the future.