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Newcastle fails to apply for infrastructure grant

Editorial
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The NSW Government had made an election promise to allocate $160 million for infrastructure projects in regional towns facing the brunt of a growing mining industry.

But the Newcastle City Council has passed the opportunity to apply for the government grant for infrastructure projects in the region.

While Muswellbrook and Singleton Councils have received grants for road improvements and upgrade of a hospital emergency department, Upper Hunter MP George Souris said they did not receive an infrastructure grant application from the Newcastle Local Government Area.

“In case people ask the question – why was Newcastle not included? – it’s because Newcastle didn’t make any applications,” he said.

The government previously funded projects in Newcastle, Singleton, Muswellbrook, Cobar, Narrabri and Lithgow council areas.

Newcastle was deemed most “indirectly affected” by mining.

But Maitland, Cessnock and Lake Macquarie were overlooked.

According to the ABC, Labor Councillor Nautali Nelmes is calling for a public clarification on why the Council did not apply for the first round of Resources for Regions grant, which had $40 million on offer.

“We have a long wish list that has been developed with the community of projects and Newcastle Council keeps saying it doesn’t have any money to deliver these projects, as simple as footpaths in local areas,” she said.

“Then we don’t apply for huge amounts of grant funding? It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

She is particularly shocked by the news since local liberal MP Tim Owen toiled to ensure Newcastle qualified to apply for the grant.

“I think it’s shocking that we haven’t applied for any resources for region funding.

“After the state budget not having any money for projects like the Art Gallery, we had our local state member, a Liberal, urging us to apply for a resources for regions grant.

“That art gallery project could have gone ahead with only $7 million, that’s just one of the projects we should be applying for.”

Wollongong was found to be eligible for funding under the grant after it was found to be considerably “indirectly affected” by mining.

"Resources for Regions provides grants worth millions of dollars for communities experiencing unique direct and indirect pressures on their infrastructure and services as a result of mining activity," Deputy Premier and Minister for Regions Infrastructure Andrew Stoner said.

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