Singleton and Muswellbrook call for statutory body
Published on 14 February 2023
While mining continues to be a major economic generator for the Hunter, the mayors of Singleton and Muswellbrook say it is critical that more is urgently done to support the region’s economic evolution, starting with a statutory body.
Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore and Mayor of Muswellbrook, Cr Steven Reynolds have joined forces in the lead up to the NSW election to call for a whole-of-region approach to ensure the ongoing prosperity of the Hunter is protected from market conditions in any industry.
They want a commitment from all candidates and the major parties to establish a statutory body that has appropriate legislative powers and resources to provide holistic leadership, strategy, policy, governance and accountability to drive a whole-of-region approach to economic evolution now, and for generations to come.
Latest figures show the Hunter’s mining industry injected $6.3billion into the Hunter economy in the last financial year, and the NSW Minerals Council’s latest member expenditure survey showed an increase of over 330 jobs compared to the previous financial year to support 13,580 jobs by participating companies.
As the local government areas responsible for producing 43 per cent of the region’s coal, Cr Moore said the best time to generate new opportunities and attract new industries is now.
“Coal mining will have a prominent place in the Hunter’s economy for decades to come and we’re proud of the vital contribution our region makes to the people of NSW. But we are not naive. We know change is coming, and we need to start the planning for our evolution now,” she said.
“Our goal is for a vibrant, expansive and diverse industry base. We need opportunities for new and emerging technologies and innovation, building on all the attributes of our region including transport links, water, power, availability of land and the lifestyle opportunities for a skilled workforce, that will make the Hunter stand out as the best location to do business.
“The whole of the Hunter region will be affected by changes to the carbon economy. It is a regional issue, and needs a regional approach led appropriately by the next NSW Government to provide certainty and deliver the best outcomes for every person in the Hunter.”
Cr Reynolds said it was time for a return on the investment the people of Muswellbrook, Singleton and the rest of the region make to NSW by being at the centre of coal mining production.
“The Upper Hunter has long been the engine room for our region, and for the state of NSW. We’re working hard at the local government level to ensure that continues regardless of what challenges may come our way,” he said.
“There are so many individuals and organisations working in this transition space, but most of these efforts are disjointed and not integrated. We urgently need leadership and co-ordination across the region. We need a body that has the mandate and authority to provide whole of region leadership and the resources to make things happen.
“The clock is ticking, and we need action now to provide a pathway so as industry and business have confidence in investing in both current mine land that can be utilised and also post mining. Some of the available infrastructure is an enabling opportunity.
“This needs to be collective effort, and State Government leadership is critical to how successful we can be and what the future looks like for our community.
“Establishing and properly resourcing a statutory body is the tangible first step the next NSW Government can make to provide for our community and the people of the wider region and support us to continue to support NSW’s prosperity.”