Calls for Resources for Regions to be extended
Eligibility for the NSW Government’s Resources for Regions program should be extended to more towns so that more NSW mining communities can share the benefits, according to the NSW Minerals Council.
“Mining communities deliver a big economic windfall to NSW, yet for too long their needs have been neglected,” NSW Minerals Council CEO, Stephen Galilee said today.
“After the last state election the NSW Government introduced the Resources for Regions program to return some of the benefits of mining to the mining regions in infrastructure investment. The initial commitment was for $160 million in funding over four years for mining regions, and the Government is on track to deliver this,” Mr Galilee said.
“However, some mining communities are currently not eligible to apply for funding as they do not fall under the program’s limited criteria of being ‘mining affected’,” he said.
“For example, Cessnock, Maitland and Lake Macquarie Councils are not currently eligible to apply. This doesn’t make sense. There are actually more mining employees residing within the boundaries of Maitland Council than there are in the Muswellbrook Council area, yet while Muswellbrook is eligible to apply for Resources for Regions funding, Maitland is not.
Similarly, whilst Narrabri Council is able to apply for funding because it has several mines located within its boundaries, Gunnedah Council is ineligible. This is despite the Gunnedah local government area being home to more than twice as many mining workers as Narrabri.
In the Far West there are at least 520 mining workers living within Broken Hill City Council boundaries and mining contributes to the jobs of another 2,360 people or 28 per cent of total employment there. Broken Hill is clearly a mining-affected community, and Resources for Regions funding should be extended there as well.
“Specifically, we have made a submission to the Government recommended that if a council has more than 1,000 residing mining employees, or if mining makes a total employment contribution (direct and indirect) of 20 per cent or more within the local government area, it should be considered ‘mining affected’ and eligible to apply’.”
“The NSW Government should also inject more public funding into the Resources for Regions program in the next State Budget, and make a long-term funding commitment to ensure the program can continue into the future.”
“Expanding eligibility and funding for Resources for Regions in this way would help mining communities get a fair return for the economic windfall they deliver for NSW,” Mr Galilee said.