Criticism of the State Government’s Resources for Regions program by a group of Labor MPs has reinforced Singleton Council’s support for a review of the allocation of funds under the program.
Singleton Council has received a total of $31.5 million from the Resources for Regions program since it was introduced in 2012 to 2015/2016, including $8.12 million for the Hermitage Road cycleway and upgrade; $9 million for the revitalisation of the Singleton Town Centre; and $6 million for the Singleton Regional Livestock Market upgrade.
That figure accounts for just 7.6% of the value of royalties derived from the Singleton LGA in the 2016/17 financial year alone.
The Newcastle Herald reported today that the marginal seat of Barwon had received $57.45 million from Resources for Regions, “despite its three mining areas of Cobar, Narrabri and Broken Hill generating only a fraction of the royalties contributed by the Upper Hunter.”
Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore, said Singleton was participating in a NSW Audit Office review of Regional Assistance Programs currently underway and the Newcastle Herald report reinforced the need for the review.
“The Singleton LGA is the biggest contributor to mining royalties in NSW, amounting to $541.9 million in 2015/2016,” she said.
“If the Resources for Regions program exists to support mining-affected communities in NSW, then how the funds are allocated should reflect the contributions that come from mining-affected communities.
“Singleton Council is committed to working with the State Government to secure funds under the range of programs available to benefit our community, and to ensure our LGA is adequately recognised and compensated for the contribution it makes to the NSW budget.
“Having said that, the focus of the Resources for Regions program should not be to pit councils against councils - we all exist for the same reason, and that is to get the best outcomes for our communities.”
Cr Moore said the $7.76 million Singleton Regional Livestock Market upgrade, slated for completion in February, was an important infrastructure project to support a diverse and vibrant local economy that was not dependent on coal.
The project was funded with a $6 million Resources for Regions grant and an additional $1.76 million from Council.
“Council is absolutely committed to the continued operation of the saleyards and ensuring a viable livestock market exists in Singleton for the benefit of the local economy,” she said.
“However, a staff-led service delivery review of the Singleton Regional Livestock Market was conducted independently of the major upgrade, and found the current operation of the facility was unsustainable.
“In the previous financial year, the operation of the saleyards facility resulted in a deficit in excess of $250,000.
“That’s why we have embarked on an Expression of Interest process to gauge the interest from the private sector in the operation and management of the facility, so that Council can make an informed decision on how it would best serve stakeholders - including buyers and sellers - and the broader community into the future.”