Hunter Joint Organisation, in partnership with Committee for the Hunter, presented a strong, united voice to advocate for shovel-ready local infrastructure priorities in this Federal Budget.
It was therefore warmly welcomed news that the Hunter’s voice has been heard, with Tuesday’s Federal Budget announcements including the following benefits for regions;
- An extra $1 billion to go to Councils to immediately upgrade bike paths, streetlights, footpaths, walking tracks, community halls, and barbecue facilities.
- Major infrastructure spending with a significant boost to roads, bridges, rail, and community works.
- $2 billion for small-scale safety spends such as installing wire rope safety barriers
As Cr Bob Pynsent noted in advocating for local infrastructure, “The funding that we hope to attract will not only create local jobs, but will kick-start recovery across our communities that have been impacted severely by drought, bushfires and more recently COVID-19.”
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned the new money came with conditions. “Funding for these shovel-ready projects will be provided on a use it or lose it basis,” he said. “If a state drags its feet, another state will get the money. We need works to start, not stall.”
Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack recognised that while asking state and territory governments to nominate projects worth bringing forward is also part of the plan, council proposals can be done more quickly.
“Councils know their communities best, generally, and they’re able to deploy work forces quickly, which keeps money flowing through local communities,” he said. “And generally, infrastructure projects driven by local councils employ local people and generally use local procurement – that’s the important thing too.”