Newcastle Herald, 5 October 2020
Extending the M1 motorway, upgrading Newcastle Airport’s runway and funding the Singleton bypass are among the projects on the Hunter’s federal budget wishlist.
The M1 motorway extension from Black Hill to Raymond Terrace is a missing link in the national highway between Sydney and Brisbane. Infrastructure Australia has listed the project as a priority initiative that should be delivered within the next five years.
The Hunter Business Chamber has argued that, while the project is not yet shovel-ready, bringing funding forward could expedite planning and assessment and ensure delivery in line with the Infrastructure Australia recommendation.
The Committee for the Hunter has presented the government with three major infrastructure projects 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.
“Our message is clear. The Hunter is ready, we have tremendous capacity to make an impact in the national economy, invest in us and we will deliver,” Committee for the Hunter chief executive Alice Thompson said.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack listed the Hunter and one of 10 ten priority investment regions last week where all levels of government will coordinate investment to support recovery and growth.
“Importantly, the Hunter has been prioritised because we presented a united front to government, demonstrating our commitment to work together in the region’s interest and our capacity to be a credible delivery partner,” Ms Thompson said.
“I look forward to seeing greater focus and investment in the Hunter in the budget, and recognition of the significant role we can play in the nation’s recovery from COVID-19.”
The Hunter Business Chamber is also hopeful of funding to further investigate opportunities for faster rail between Newcastle and Sydney.
While a state government commissioned ‘stepping stone’ investigation into the project is yet to be finalised the chamber is calling ongoing commitment.
“We wouldn’t want to lose sight of the opportunity not withstanding we know that passenger rail isn’t as busy as it was 12 months ago,” chamber chief executive Bob Hawes said.