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Candidates on: Voluntary Assisted Dying
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THE Dying with Dignity NSW group held an online forum to canvass the Upper Hunter candidates to discover how they would vote when the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 comes before NSW Parliament.

If passed, the bill in NSW would legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill. The NSW upper house debated a voluntary assisted dying bill in 2017. It was defeated by a single vote, 20 votes to 19.

The controversial bill has passionate advocates on both sides of the debate with opponents of the Bill in NSW, with groups such as the ‘HOPE Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide’ group stating it would pose a very real threat to the disabled, the elderly, those with mental health issues and those Australians, including young people, struggling with suicidal ideation.

Question 1: Do you, in principle, support the concept of voluntary assisted dying laws? That is, laws that would permit terminally ill people, at the end stage of their illness, who are experiencing intolerable suffering, to ask for assistance to die, provided that they have decision-making capacity and are not subject to any coercion?

Question 2: If elected as the representative for Upper Hunter, will you vote YES when the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 comes before NSW Parliament?

Shane Higson, Vice President of Dying with Dignity (DWD) said, “we soon realised that some candidates who supported voluntary assisted dying in principle weren’t comfortable pledging to support legislation that is still being drafted. As a consequence, our scorecard indicates those candidates who have ‘in principle’ support but may not have answered yes to Question 2.

Two candidates, Kirsty O’Connell and Tracy Norman attended the DWD online forum on Saturday 8 May so they were able to give their own responses to our questions. We have included Kirsty’s and Tracy’s original statements and also statements from the candidates who responded to our email.   

  1. Kirsty O’Connell – Is an independent candidate who attended our forum. In answer to Q.1 –

“I believe this is a question of conscience and compassion – not politics.

I personally have lost loved ones to cancer and have witnessed the suffering that people experience in the late stages of a terminal illness.

In my case, both of my uncles wanted to live – wanted to keep trying for more time with us. That was their choice.

Provided that a terminally ill person has the capacity to make the decision for themselves, is not coerced, and that all appropriate safeguards are in place and overseen by qualified medical professionals, I would support giving people in this position the dignity of a choice.

In answer to Q.2 –

“I will study the legislation very closely to ensure that all the appropriate safeguards are in place and provided they are, I will vote yes.”

2. Archie Lea – The only candidate to voice his opposition to the bill. Mr Lea is a strong opponent of voluntary assisted dying.

3. Eva Pears – The candidate for the Liberal Democratic Party was the first candidate to reply to our email and it was a “Yes” to both questions. She followed up with this statement –“The Liberal Democrats are committed to enacting legislation to allow all adult Australians the right to assisted suicide, provided there are appropriate safety mechanisms to ensure consent is given freely and confirmed. There is no more fundamental expression of individual freedom than the right to decide what to do with our own body.

While most fair-minded people accept that painlessly terminating the suffering of animals is a humane act of compassion, and this is recognised by the law, the law prohibits the application of the same principle to our own species.

The Liberal Democratic Party, as a party that supports individual rights and freedom of choice, rejects this cruel double standard.”

4. Dale McNamara – The One Nation candidate, thanked us for the opportunity to make a comment on the proposed voluntary assisted dying laws. His statement was:

“I recognise that, for many, the issue of voluntary assisted dying is deeply personal and strong views are held by all sides of the debate. Having supported close friends as they died from incurable diseases, I am sympathetic towards those who support voluntary assisted dying.

“My current view is that individuals, in consultation with medical and psychological professionals, should be given the option of voluntary assisted dying, as a last resort.”

“If elected to the Upper Hunter seat, I would consult with the community of the Upper Hunter, and ensure their views are represented. As the representative of the Upper Hunter, my door would always be open to the community, so they could express their concerns and or support of this proposed legislation.”

6. Tracy Norman – Is another independent candidate who attended the forum. She also gave this response to the two questions:

In answer to your 1st question, I certainly support in principle. However, I cannot answer the second question without seeing the draft bill and feel that it would therefore be an irresponsible response to answer yes to your second question.

7. Steven Reynolds – Is another independent candidate who called DWDNSW soon after receiving our email. He was very supportive of our issue. When asked to put something in writing he replied:

As I stated in our call, this is something that I unequivocally support, even beyond the by-election you have my support moving forward on this topic. This for me is not an item to win votes on, but should I not be successful at the by-election, I will be at the ready to assist you in any way I can to advocate for this.”

8. Sue Abbott – The Greens candidate was a definite Yes to both questions but did not provide a statement.

9. Jeff Drayton – The Labor candidate sent the following statement.

“I support voluntary assisted dying in principle. However, I won’t commit to voting in support of this until I’ve seen the details of a Bill.”

10. Calum Blair – The candidate for Sustainable Australia sent the following statement –

“I am strongly in support of voluntary assisted dying laws. It is the right of the individual to choose. The answers to your two questions are therefore Yes and Yes.”

11. Michael Dello-Iacovo – The candidate for the Animal Justice Party has indicated that he is 100% supportive however did not provide a statement.

12. Sue Gilroy – The candidate for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party provided the following statement –

“As a nurse, this is an area where I do hold a personal view, as I have witnessed first-hand both well managed and poorly managed end of life situations. This is an intensely personal decision to make. If elected, I would support the majority position of my electorate, as a conscience vote driven by the electorate I represent. On this matter, it would be incumbent of me to sideline my personal views on the matter and side with the view of the majority of my constituents.

13. Kate Fraser – Is another independent candidate who also answered yes to both questions. Her statement said –

“I am in favour of choice and I strongly believe that we all should be aiming toward compassionate and humane, end of life options.”

On the upcoming bill, Nationals Upper Hunter candidate David Layzell said that this particular Bill is very complicated.

“Four weeks ago I was just a builder. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done around those bills. There’s a lot of organisations that take a strong position on one side of the fence or the other,” Mr Layzell said.

“These are very complex situations and I really need to know how the community feels about it, how the people of the Upper Hunter feel about it,” he said.

“I don’t think it matters what my personal view is, I’m standing here saying I want to represent the people of the Upper Hunter and it’s a  complicated issue. It’s something I need to get my head into to understand because it will be very important for the community.

“For me, it’s how people of the Upper Hunter feel about it. I’ll be canvassing the people of the Upper Hunter and if given the opportunity, my job is to listen and to listen hard.”

$75 million Resources for Regions Round Eight
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THE Deputy Premier and Leader of the NSW Nationals John Barilaro joined NSW Nationals candidate for the Upper Hunter David Layzelle and Singleton Mayor Cr Sue Moore at Singleton Rugby Club to make an announcement on the $75 million Resources for Regions Round Eight for council and community projects.

Mining communities across regional NSW are set to receive a greater share of mining royalties with Resources for Regions Round Eight applications now open for projects that will improve local amenities and infrastructure.

Mr Barilaro along with Mr Layzell in said Round Eight has been boosted to $75 million, which will help deliver even more projects that make a difference to 24 Local Government Areas across regional NSW.

“Round Eight of the Resources for Regions fund will build on the success of the previous round, which provided $50 million for 84 projects that helped create new jobs and stimulated local economies through infrastructure and program delivery,” Mr Barilaro said.

“We know that the mining industry can put extra pressure on local infrastructure in regional towns and this fund is about giving back to these mining communities that contribute so much to the NSW economy.

“You’ve heard me say there is more to come and here it is, another $75 million to fund projects and programs that will ensure our mining communities remain strong for generations to come.

Resources for Regions is a program that provides $75 million yearly to mining communities to improve local amenities such as roads and water. It also supports community resilience programs and social infrastructure such as local childcare centres and sports fields.

Since 2012, through Resources for Regions, more than $345 million has been contributed to 149 projects in mining communities.

Such projects have included the Scone CBD Revitalisation, the White Park Power Upgrade, the Cassilis Village Revitalisation and funding for the Murrurundi Art Gallery and Indigenous Centre business case.

The Royalties for Rejuvenation program, announced last month, will set aside $25 million each year into a future fund.

Mr Layzell says it’s a bold new plan to set aside a percentage of mining royalties in order to guarantee a safer and stronger future for coal mining communities for generations to come.

“Although Resources for Regions and Royalties for Rejuvenation are targeted programs for reinvesting mining royalties into mining communities, the benefits of mining royalties actually flow far deeper than that,” Mr Layzell said.

“In the 2019-20 financial year, the total value of mining production and exports reached $26.3 billion. Coal was the state’s largest export earner at $18 billion,” he said.

“That is $26.3 billion is reinvested into communities for critical infrastructure like hospitals, roads and schools and reinvested into our health and education system, creating safer and stronger regional communities.

“So while our targeted programs like Royalties for Rejuvenation safeguard funding for mining communities, our track record of reinvesting mining royalties back into regional communities runs far deeper than that.

This is just further proof the NSW Nationals in Government deliver for the people of the Upper Hunter and regional NSW.”

Photo: (L to R) Singleton Mayor Cr Sue Moore, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Singleton Rugby Club Secretary Cameron Williams and NSW Nationals Candidate David Layzell.

Redistributing mining royalties
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ALTHOUGH the Upper Hunter sends billions in mining royalties to Sydney to bolster state coffers, it sees a low return on its investment and Labor’s candidate for the region Jeff Drayton says they will overhaul the current system to return at least $100 million here.

NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay joined Mr Drayton in Singleton today for his official campaign launch and to unveil Labor’s plan, which would see Councils in mining communities across NSW receive a fair share.

The Resources for Regions program has “dudded” the Upper Hunter for too long according to Mr Drayton who says Sydney has benefited from the $800 million royalties the Upper Hunter sends to Sydney each year.

Photo: Jeff Drayton at Club Singleton today, addressing the public at his official campaign launch.

“We send billions down to Sydney for their stadiums, trams and toll roads but we get nothing in return. We will take the politics out of Resources for Regions and make sure the Upper Hunter gets its fair share from the huge contribution local mining makes to the NSW economy,” Mr Drayton said.

“This is money that will go into fixing our roads and building infrastructure that can create local jobs.”

Photo: Jeff Drayton seated beside his wife and children in the front row.

Labor would also increase the minimum allocation in each round, delivering record funding to create jobs and support businesses across the Upper Hunter.

If royalties allow, a Labor Government would look to provide more.

The program will also:

·       Prioritise local job creation and businesses under Labor’s NSW Made policy.

·       Allow Councils to undertake investment attraction activities to support jobs growth in mining communities in line with their long-term plans for the future

In 2019, Deputy Premier John Barilaro underspent Round 6 of the Resources for Regions fund by almost 50 percent, withholding millions that was rightfully allocated to mining communities. That money should have been used to create jobs and build local infrastructure.

Ms McKay said: “Labor will help Councils in mining communities plan for the future and attract investment. This is hugely important to support new industries and jobs and make sure the Upper Hunter gets its fair share for the future.”

Photo: Opposition Leader Jodi McKay speaking at Jeff Drayton’s official campaign launch at Club Singleton today.

Mr Drayton also announced a plan to create more jobs at former mines and on power generation sites. Under Labor, the NSW Government would meet the cost of master planning mines or power generation sites prior to closure, if the site commits to maintaining or increasing the number of jobs.

This would allow valuable infrastructure and land to be repurposed for job creation when a mine reaches the end of its life.

“The Upper Hunter isn’t getting its fair share under this Nationals Government. They’re ripping us off,” Mr Drayton said.

 “Despite gladly pocketing $800m a year from our hard work, the National Party down in Sydney refuses to send any of it back. It’s all at the whim of John Barilaro, and Councils have no certainty of what funding they might get.”

 

All the fanfare of the Scone Cup
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IT was the driest Scone Cup to date and we don’t mean the weather with patrons waiting one or two hours in line to get a drink. While there, Scone.com.au ran into Labor’s Upper Hunter candidate Jeff Drayton and Opposition leader Jodi McKay. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also made an appearance in a vibrant red suit.

The Darley Scone Cup Race Day, as always, drew a sizeable crowd who waited longer than usual to drink and the various show-stopping outfits were on exhibit as the nailbiting horse race got underway.

Mr Drayton, a horse racing enthusiast, is a regular fixture at the Scone Cup and Ms McKay who said she hadn’t been to Scone Cup in some time were on hand to feel the palpable tension of the crowd as excitement built during a race that saw Rachel King take out the feature race double in Scone.

As one of the biggest country race days on the NSW racing calendar and a half-day public holiday in Scone, it drew Glady Berejiklian from Sydney for a return visit to the Upper Hunter where she spoke to many people and joined the other ladies as a standout figure for fashion on the field. 

The race is a highlight of this month’s Scone Horse Festival. The 10-day celebration has featured many events including live music in the horse capital of Australia. Check out all the events planned as part of the festival here.

Mr Drayton said he would normally come to the Cup and although Ms McKay hadn’t been to the race in a few years, said she would put it on the calendar and hopes to become a regular.

“I’d be here if there was a by-election or not, I would’ve been here as I was last night for the Calcutta, here for the race and I’ll be here tomorrow. You know, I haven’t missed one for a long time,” Mr Drayton said.

“I can’t believe how many people are here. I haven’t been to the Scone Cup in a long time. I’d love to come next year and it would be terrific if we could actually get some beers, right?” Ms McKay said.

 

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Rouchel tennis courts upgrade and new community hub
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ROUCHEL’s neglected Tennis Courts are getting a new lease of life with the boost of a $150,000 grant to create modern tennis courts as well as a new Pavillion and community hub on the grounds.

The clay tennis courts fell into a state of disrepute and were not used for around 10 years until the Rouchel Progress Association put their request forward for their share of funding from the Drought Community Program (DCP).

Michael Burke, who lives in Rouchel and is president of the Rouchel Progress Association said the DCP grant was acquired from the Federal Government through the Upper Hunter Shire Council. 

“Applicants for the grant came from drought-affected areas such as ours. We were also awarded $20,000 by Bengalla Mining Company as part of their ‘Building Better Communities’ because we all recognised the need for a new central community hub in Rouchel,” Mr Burke said.

“The old clay tennis courts remained untouched for 10 years however in the past it was used extensively to host tennis tournaments and competitions however the clay-based courts required a lot of upkeep and when the people doing that couldn’t do it any longer, the courts were just neglected,” he said.

Mr Burke says the association has the vision to create a Pavillion with a BBQ area to create a space for the community to gather well into the future and help strengthen the tight-knit community of around 200 people.

“We want these courts to host tennis tournaments again, perhaps some netball too. Right now in Rouchel, there’s not a central meeting point for the community outside of the Rouchel School of Arts. There’s not really been anywhere for the community to go and this is going to make a huge difference to us,” Mr Burke said.

“Our hope is to have a place for all generations so grandparents and families can come and eat and watch the games. The Pavillion will face the tennis courts so it’s all set up for enjoyable times in the future. One of the tennis courts has a netball court painted on it so we’re looking forward to seeing some netball games,” he said.

“All in all, these upgraded tennis courts and surrounding areas will foster community involvement and spirit and help participation in sports. We’ve gone through years of drought, and now we’ll have a dedicated area where people from Rouchel, their family and friends can come and relax.”

Upper Hunter Shire Council (UHSC) Cr James Burns said the UHSC was impressed with the calibre of application from Rouchel Progress Association and the upgrade will bring the community of Rouchel together.

“We’ve been impressed with the way the progress association has handled this project. This will be a great asset for the people of Rouchel who have experienced drought and mouse plagues. It’s a positive step for Rouchel especially considering there’s no longer even the Rouchel Public School,” Cr Burns said.

Work on the courts began three weeks ago and is expected to be completed by 1 July this year.

 

Singleton, Muswellbrook mining royalties farce
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Although Singleton and Muswellbrook injected $1.52 billion of coal royalties into the NSW state coffers in 2019-20, a comparatively paltry amount is returned to the region with a mobile billboard set to travel the Upper Hunter electorate today to remind residents where their hard-earned money goes.

NSW Labor Candidate for the Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton who today called for a fairer share of mining royalties for the people of the Upper Hunter, revealed figures showing the Upper Hunter sends nearly $800 million to Sydney in coal mining royalties each year, but local communities only receive $10 million back through the NSW Government’s ‘Resources for Regions’ program.

Labor’s Upper Hunter candidate Jeff Drayton said today that the Nationals had failed to fight for the region’s fair share, allowing the region to fall behind on critical services and infrastructure.

“We are being ripped off. The Upper Hunter sends $800 million down the motorway each year so Sydney’s inner-city can have the great roads, fancy stadiums, and a shiny new light rail network. In return, we get $10 million,” Mr Drayton said.

“And we are paying a big price. We have roads full of potholes; hospitals without enough doctors; long ambulance waiting times; homeless people sleeping rough; vulnerable kids without caseworkers and our TAFE campuses being replaced with cheap online learning,” he said.

“It’s not good enough. After decades of neglect, Upper Hunter needs a representative who will fight for our fair share, to get the services our communities are calling out for. That’s what I’m determined to do.”

Labor’s fast figures:

·       In 2019-20, the NSW Government collected $1.52 billion in royalties from coal mining. Half comes from Singleton and Muswellbrook coal mines alone.

·       On average, the Upper Hunter sends over three-quarters of $1 billion to Sydney every single year.

·       The Nationals only returned $10.3 million to the Upper Hunter in the latest round of Resources for Regions funding (including only $4.57 million to Singleton and $3.75 million to Muswellbrook)

·       That is only 1.2% returned to the Upper Hunter, while the NSW Government pockets the rest.

Safer waterways for Dungog
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Photo: Nationals candidate for the Upper Hunter David Layzell, farmer Jamie Alison and Deputy Premier John Barilaro at the new Dungog Wastewater treatment plant.

The NSW Government and Hunter Water have completed work on the new wastewater plant to service the town’s growing population and deliver improved environmental outcomes.

Deputy Premier and Leader of the NSW Nationals John Barilaro said the completion of the $28 million wastewater treatment facility will provide people in Dungog and the Upper Hunter with safer waterways.

“Farmer Jamie Alison has used this facility to provide irrigation for his properties and he and Dungog will reap the benefit for many years to come with this investment. We’ve delivered on this promise and now the people of Dungog are set up with their wastewater for probably the next 100 years with this plant,” Mr Layzell said.

Mr Barilaro reiterated Mr Layzell’s stance that as the population grows, it is imperative the government provide state-of-the-art facilities which incorporate innovative design for water and waste treatment to guarantee safer waterways.

“Nothing is more important to the NSW Nationals than delivering quality infrastructure to regional communities and this project for Dungog was committed to, progressed and has now been delivered by the NSW Government, another example of our track record delivering for the people of the Upper Hunter,” Mr Barilaro said.

Hunter Water Managing Director Darren Cleary said the major upgrade will also help deliver improved environmental outcomes.

“The design of the bioreactor, combined with the use of modern Membrane Bioreactor technology, means the new plant produces better quality treated wastewater,” Mr Cleary said.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said this is a significant investment that will benefit the Dungog community for decades to come.

“This is a great outcome for Dungog, with the new plant replacing an aging facility that was more than 80 years old,” Ms Pavey said. 

“This $28 million investment will ensure the growing community is reliably serviced for many years, while also providing Hunter Water with ongoing confidence that it can continue to meet its environmental licensing commitments.”    

Construction has also begun on a new wastewater pump station at Dungog, which will replace the existing 75-year-old infrastructure and cater for increased capacity. Construction is expected to be complete in early 2022.

State Government announces $650,000 for new Kayuga fire station
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Photo: Deputy premier John Barilaro, Upper Hunter Nationals candidate Dave Layzell and members of the Kayuga Rural Fire Brigade.

Kayuga Rural Fire Brigade will receive a new $650,000 purpose-built fire station to help the passionate fire crew operate with all the equipment they need to protect their community.

The state government’s announcement to build this new station in Kayuga follows a commitment from Labor of $530,000 towards a new station earlier in the week where Labor’s candidate for Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton lashed out at the “appalling” facilities the brigade were operating in.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro also joined Mr Layzell at the new site in Kayuga to make the announcement and said it is crucial volunteer firefighters have the facilities they need to protect their community. 

“These are a group of passionate people who have done their best but now they will have a state-of-the-art facility that can really accommodate their needs on the job,” Mr Layzell said.

“This announcement is another example of the NSW Government’s commitment to our emergency services, especially in rural and regional areas,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The brand new Kayuga Fire Station will have room to store two trucks, as well as the modern facilities our firefighters need as they go about their critical duties,” he said.

“The proud volunteers of the Kayuga Brigade work tirelessly to protect lives and property throughout bushfire seasons, and indeed all year round, and they need and deserve a state-of-the-art facility.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said this announcement is on top of an already record budget for emergency services. “The volunteers of the NSW Rural Fire Service had our backs during some of the worst bushfires this country has seen. This announcement is another example of how the NSW Government is committed to having theirs,” Mr Elliott said.

“Our volunteer firefighters keep our community safe all year round, whether it be their response to local incidents, deployment during campaign fires, or conducting essential hazard reduction activities,” he said.

“We all know how important rural fire brigades are to communities in regional and rural NSW, I trust this new purpose-built fire station will become a cornerstone of the Kayuga community for many years to come.” 

Advocacy pays off for Newcastle Airport Upgrade
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AS former Dungog Mayor, Cr Tracy Norman took a trip to Canberra to speak with ministers and advocate for funding to upgrade Newcastle Airport. Today that effort and dream were realised with the announcement of a $66 million upgrade to the runway.

Cr Norman said she took a trip down to Canberra in 2018, as one of the mayors representing the Upper Hunter together with her Lower Hunter colleagues, with the group unified in their call for funding to upgrade Newcastle Airport.

“We can’t keep having by-elections to get the attention of governments but look it’s a positive thing. I welcome this announcement. This much-needed infrastructure will significantly boost the Upper Hunter economy by opening up easy access to the lucrative Asian market and beyond,” Cr Norman said.

“This is a great result for the Upper Hunter Electorate and one that I, as Mayor of Dungog, advocated strongly for along with my Hunter Joint Organisation colleagues. When we went to Canberra I was the voice for the Upper Hunter, hammering home the importance of such an upgrade. As I said then, it is vital for both our current agricultural businesses as well as new industries that will be phased in as the coal market declines,” Cr Norman aid.

Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock said the upgrade was a game-changer for the region.

“I want to thank the Prime Minister and the Federal Government for the confidence and trust they have shown in our airport and the region more generally,” Dr Cock said.

“Attracting this funding has been the result of a huge effort from the entire region. The support we have received from all sectors of our community in advocating for this project has been extraordinary,” he said. 

“Of course, it will offer convenience for travellers from our region who want to fly internationally. But more importantly, it will drive huge, sustainable economic benefits into the whole of northern NSW. It is truly a nation-building project.

“From local tourism operators and hospitality owners to agricultural producers and freight and logistics providers, this project will drive significant jobs and economic return for generations to come.”

Referring to Newcastle Airport CEO Peter Cock’s comments, Tracy said “It is great to see acknowledgment of the multitude of grassroots movements and organisations that have been working tirelessly for years to achieve this outcome”. I would also like to personally congratulate the Hunter Joint Organisation, the Committee for the Hunter and other advocacy groups for their efforts in achieving this upgrade.

“We have been pushing for this for years. There’s nothing like a by-election to open the Government purse but let’s do it outside of a by-election. It’s exhausting having by-elections,” said Cr Norman who has been hitting the campaign trail hard for the Upper Hunter by-election on May 22.

The federal government’s investment into upgrading Newcastle Airport’s runway to international standard ahead of next Tuesday’s Federal budget will mean significant benefits for the region, including the Upper Hunter.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Newcastle to make the announcement, said “This will be a jobs boom for Newcastle and the Hunter Region.”

The upgrade will see a code E runway to allow wide-bodied commercial aircraft such as Boeing 787’s and Airbus A330’s to use Newcastle Airport. These aircraft carry in excess of 250 passengers and significant freight loads. They are able to undertake long-haul flights into North Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.

 

Injection of $25 million for Dungog’s roads
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NSW Nationals Candidate for the Upper Hunter seat David Layzell welcomed Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s announcement today of a $25 million funding package for Dungog’s roads.

Dungog Shire Council’s crumbling roads have been a major issue in the lead up to the May 22 Upper Hunter by-election. Priorities for upgrades under the $25 million package will be determined by Dungog Shire Council in consultation with Transport for NSW.

Mr Layzell, who along with the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole was in Dungog today, said he was elated the crumbling roads on the back of drought and floods would now be fixed.

“This is fantastic news for Dungog and everyone who lives over this side of the electorate. The community has had to put up with crumbling roads and it’s great to see the Nationals in Government continue to fulfill their election promise to fix local roads in our region,” Mr Layzell said.

He said under the previous Labor Government, the responsibility to maintain more than 100 kilometres of roads was dumped on Dungog Shire overnight, resulting in a huge hit to the local budget.

Mr Barilaro said the funding was about giving the community safer roads, which was what it rightly deserved.

“We know the roads across the Dungog Shire are not up to standard and a reliable road network is essential for a thriving region, which is exactly why we are delivering this funding, to ensure a safer and stronger Upper Hunter,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The NSW Government is reclaiming the management of thousands of kilometres of roads across the state to take the onus off councils and put it back on the government.

Mr Toole said in the past 12 months alone, the NSW Government had invested more than $21 million in projects on Dungog’s local road network.

“In the coming months, locals will also see work get underway on the first four of 23 aging timber bridges on the local road network that will be replaced with modern structures that meet the community’s needs thanks to more than $16 million in funding through our Fixing Country Bridges program,” Mr Toole said.

“We know how important good local roads are in getting families to work, to school, to the shops and home again safely and we’re working with the council to deliver a safer, stronger road network that delivers on the needs of Dungog now and into the future,” he said.

Independent candidate for the Upper Hunter seat and former Dungog Mayor, Cr Tracy Norman was pleased to see today’s announcement.

“It’s interesting timing and we can’t keep having by-elections to get what we need but I want to give recognition to the current councillors and staff who have been advocating for more funding for a long time. I’m going to make sure the Nationals stick to this promise,” Cr Norman said.

 

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