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Local councils are unhappy a Resources for Regions fund promised by the NSW Government to deliver $160 million to mining regions is missing from the state budget.
Local coal communities Singleton, Muswellbrook, and Upper Hunter were expecting the fund to deliver $28 million a year in infrastructure work for four years.
The Government’s commitment to the program appears on shaky ground after it said the money from the infrastructure fund Restart NSW would be directed to Resources for Regions at an unspecified date.
Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush told the Newcastle Herald the council had been expecting the money much sooner than what the Government has announced.
“The expectation was that the money would be flowing in the first financial year of an O’Farrell government,” he said.
“The mining expansion is upon us, and the expenditure of money to provide infrastructure to support communities living with that expansion should have been flowing from January 2012.”
Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner told the ABC the Coalition was still committed to the $160 million allocation, but a thorough audit of communities needed to be completed first so the money could be spent properly.
“We haven’t broken our promise. All our promises will be delivered,” he said.
“We sent out a press release about the audit we are doing of mining communities to find out the area of greatest need and where the money is being generated in terms of mining activity.”