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Our region speaks as one


October 9, 2019 by admin

THE idea of the Hunter not getting a sizeable share of the $5.6 billion Regional Infrastructure Fund should be unthinkable. Cash in the fund comes from the federal government’s mineral resource rent tax and one of the fund’s purposes is to “promote development and job creation in mining communities, and in communities which support the mining sector”.

As one of the most productive coalmining regions in Australia, the Hunter should be in the box seat to receive a decent cut of the fund without having to roll over and beg. But based on experience so far, that doesn’t seem likely to be the case.

To date, Queensland and Western Australia have received commitments for about $2 billion each from the fund, with only $2 million coming to NSW. Of that sum, $1.8 million was for a study of rail crossings at Scone, where coal trains are isolating the two halves of the town from one another for extended periods.

In this context, it’s disturbing and disappointing to hear the Regional Development Australia Hunter chief executive, Todd Williams, warning the Hunter that it stands to miss out on funds unless its local government and other representative organisations speak with a united voice.

For a start, it should be inconceivable that the Hunter would miss out, given its vital mining region status. Further, the region has demonstrated repeatedly that it is willing and able to present a united front in support of important goals. Every council in the Hunter, for example, threw their weight behind Lake Macquarie’s successful request for money for the Glendale interchange from the federal government’s Regional Development Australia Fund.

No doubt Hunter organisations can do more to ensure their submissions meet funding application guidelines and fit neatly with each other’s ideas.

But most Hunter people won’t readily accept advance blame for government decisions to cut them out of funding programs. Indeed, many people in this region are becoming more and more convinced that the real reason their needs keep being pushed to the bottom of federal and state priority lists is political.

The Hunter’s infrastructure requirements have repeatedly been made known to government. If government chooses, again, to ignore those needs, it will be because it suits government to do so.

Marvellous Maddi

GILLIESTON Heights golden girl Maddi Elliott has won plenty of hearts, as well as medals, with her plucky efforts at the London Paralympic Games.

At just 13, Maddi has become Australia’s youngest Paralympic gold medallist, taking first place in the freestyle relay alongside teammates Jacqui Freney, Ellie Cole and Katherine Downie.

Apparently unfazed by the pressures of top-level competition, Maddy has carved chunks off her personal best times, surprising everybody with her performances.

With a bronze medal last Friday and a silver on Monday, the young swimmer now has a medal in every colour from the games. She also has thousands of new fans who will be cheering her on in her remaining events this week.


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