Local government leaders want to see immediate action to support the communities and economies of Singleton and Muswellbrook.
A lack of significant new financial investment in last week's NSW Budget for the two local government areas has prompted this action.
This failure according to the Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore and Muswellbrook Mayor Cr Steve Reynolds comes at a time of economic evolution of the Upper Hunter as BHP prepares to move out.
This week's NSW Budget failed to deliver an injection of funds or clarity around the administration of the $25 million Royalties for Rejuvenation fund, at the same time as BHP announced its Mt Arthur mine in Muswellbrook would close in 2030.
In May this year the NSW Parliament passed the Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 which established the Recourses for Rejuvenation Fund.
The fund was first suggested as a way forward for mining communities like the Hunter Valley during last year's Upper Hunter by-election.
Now 12 months after that initial announcement the amendments to the Bill have established the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund and the Coal Authorities Allocations Fund in the Special Deposits Account.
There is also the establishment of expert panels to guide the way the funds are used in each region. The Hunter's interim panel has met four times.
The importance of the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund is a key item in Singleton's Advocacy Agenda, along with the establishment of a statutory body.
Cr Moore said if the fund was truly designed to assist mining communities to develop and evolve their industry base in the long-term, then this was when it should be put to use.
She has met with Cr Reynolds and will join forces to demand action by the Federal and State governments not just to support the people of the Upper Hunter, but the Hunter Region as a whole.
"Singleton and Muswellbrook councils are being proactive to put measures in place to help our community and economy thrive into the future. But BHP's announcement reinforces there are decisions outside our control that have significant impacts.
"We need action from all levels of government to support the regions that have supported the prosperity of NSW and our nation through royalties, jobs and exports.
"We're not looking for promises next year at the next State Government election. We need action on the ground now so that the people of the Upper Hunter can be optimistic about their future, the future of our local community, and the future of our local economy.
"We need a commitment to real and tangible leadership, a workable legislative framework, resourcing that reflects the size of the job ahead, transparent governance and accountability to this region.
"Increases in allocations through the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund and a properly constructed and resourced statutory body would be a good place to start."
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