Newcastle Herald, 15 September 2020
Scott Morrision says his government welcomes ideas for investment in regions such as the Hunter in the lead-up to the federal budget.
Mr Morrison made the comment in response to representations from the Committee for the Hunter about three major infrastructure projects that are designed to reinvigorate and diversify the Hunter’s economy post-COVID.
The projects are the Newcastle Airport runway extension, the Port of Newcastle container terminal and the University of Newcastle STEMM building. It is estimated the projects have the capacity to generate billions of dollars and create more than 20,000 new jobs
“Everything we’re backing is part of our JobMaker agenda, including the potential gas plant at Kurri Kurri, as we build Australia back from the COVID recession,” Mr Morrison said.
“These projects, like others that are brought to the government’s attention, are being considered in the context of the 2021-22 Federal Budget.”
“In the Hunter region, the government remains committed to delivering key infrastructure projects in partnership with the NSW Government such as the M1 extension to Raymond Terrace, upgrades to the New England Highway from Newcastle through to Tenterfield, and the upgrade of Cessnock Road at Testers Hollow.”
Committee for the Hunter chief executive Alice Thompson said it was encouraging to see more federal focus on the Hunter, in particular the region’s role in Australia’s energy transition.
“The communities and businesses of the Hunter, including members of the Committee for the Hunter, share a range of views on the proposed gas-led recovery from COVID-19,” she said.
“What we are unanimous in is that with four years of jobs growth wiped out because of COVID-19 we can’t wait years for new jobs, we need them right now. And that the Hunter’s interests are best delivered by a long term plan to diversify the Hunter economy with governments and the private sector constructively pulling in the same direction.
“The region has presented a united front to the Prime Minister, saying that the projects are the right ones that will accelerate the nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and create the new jobs and opportunities that the PM is calling for today.”