12 Dec 18

A 20-year infrastructure plan for the Hunter could be back on the State’s agendawhen Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore calls on new Premier Gladys Berejiklian to resurrect theHunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund.

Mayor Peter Blackmore.

Cr Blackmore wants to invite Ms Berejiklian to Maitland to discuss the possibility of extending the fund for a second round so the region can push ahead with projects that did not see the light of day during the first round.

Cr Blackmore chaired the board that was set up to advise the government on the best use of the $350 million fund that was announced in 2010 as a key plank of the Coalition’s subsequently successful election campaign.

Another $100 million was added to the fund in 2014 and almost $400 million has been spent or allocated to projects selected by the infrastructure fund board.

It was set up to guide 20 years of infrastructure development, including transport, education, water and health, support economic growth and enhancethe liveability of the region.

The government quietly abolished the Hunter-based board late last year.

Cr Blackmore told Fairfax Media this week that he wantsto invite the Premier to Maitland to discuss a number of issues, most importantly the fund.

“I want to see what plans the government has for the Hunter and call for a second round,” the mayor said.“The previous round was a huge success and there were other areas in NSW pounding the pavementasking ‘why can’t we get this’.Each project submitted for consideration is based on its merits and there are serious guidelines.”

Projects to come out of the fund include$20million for wine region roads, $44million fora New England Highway upgrade at Maitland, $4million forThomas Mitchell Drive at Muswellbrook, an $11million Newcastle Airport expansion, $5million forKurri and Cessnock hospitals, $25million for John Hunter Children’s Hospital and$25million for the University of Newcastle.

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