Future-proofing the Upper Hunter

Filed in Just In by May 19, 2021

NSW Nationals candidate for the Upper Hunter Dave Layzell joined NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro in Singleton this morning to announce a Resources for Rejuvenation Fund to investigate the next thriving industries when mining comes to an end.

The Fund will put aside $25 million each year to plan for the future and be at the heart of decision-making around the NSW Government’s Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund.

The NSW Government will establish a statutory Expert Panel made up of community organisations from across the Hunter in the planning process.

Mr Barilaro, who is also the Minister responsible for Mining, said he would bring together Hunter community leaders to determine how best to maximise Royalties for Rejuvenation funding.

“Coal mining has a strong future in NSW but we need to ensure stability in the long-term and that is why we established the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund which will see a minimum of $25 million set aside each year to ensure we plan for opportunities down the line in mining towns,” Mr Barilaro said.

“It makes no sense for Government to tell these communities how and what the future should look like – it is communities and their leaders that are best placed to do that – and the NSW Government is here to listen and deliver on those community expectations,” he said.

  “We will work with mining communities to establish the Hunter Expert Panel and ensure it is given the independence it needs to design the terms of reference, policy, direction and guidelines for investments from the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund.”

Mr Layzell believes manufacturing is the next growth industry in the Upper Hunter. “We are doing it but we can build on manufacturing. When we supply to the coal mines, horse studs, it’s manufacturing, we’re supplying equipment to those areas,” he said. 

“The next step to ensure we find the best jobs for industries going forward is identifying groups, industry leaders, councils and unions groups. We’ll ensure everyone is represented including industry leaders, various chamber of commerce bodies and councils. We’ve already talked to Singleton Council who are keen to be involved,” Mr Layzell said.

“I believe we can bring more manufacturing jobs here which currently go overseas. We don’t want to reduce our labor costs, we want people to have a good job and a good day’s pay but we want to bring down the energy cost and make the cost of production as low as possible. We’re competing with China, we need to start competing more effectively,” he said.

The diversification of industries in the Hunter region goes well beyond a four-year electoral cycle and the Expert Panel will help drive the necessary structural change through strong independent leadership.

“Money from the Royalties for Rejuvenation fund will deliver on the types of reliable and large-scale investments that are necessary to create the jobs of the future, create beautiful communities and set the foundations for the Hunter we want for our kids,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Demand for coal in our part of the world remains strong, and thermal coal prices are at recent record highs – so we have time to plan for our future sensibly, without causing undue anxiety and fear as we navigate the decades ahead.

“In the coming months we will be reaching out to Unions, Joint Organisations of Councils, Industry Peak Bodies and Community Advocacy Groups that are prepared to join the Government in its vision of the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund.”

For more information on where candidates stand: Voting 101: Upper Hunter by-election.

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