Canberra Report - Infrastructure funding must include Hunter - Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Canberra Report - Infrastructure funding must include Hunter - Wednesday, 10 June 2020 Main Image

By Joel FItzgibbon

10 June 2020

The Morrison Government has finally woken up to the fact that for COVID 19 assistance to be long-lasting, accelerated investment in infrastructure projects will be necessary. That’s, in part, how we made it through the Global Financial Crisis without going into recession.

Here in Singleton, and in the broader Upper Hunter, we built the Hunter Expressway and the dedicated rail track for our coal exports. Both projects created direct and immediate jobs and secured future jobs by making our coal industry bigger, more efficient and profitable.

We also funded smaller road projects and built level-rail crossing gates, trade training schools in our high schools (three in Singleton), upgraded our TAFE facilities, upgraded parks and playgrounds and accelerated spending on social housing.

All other things being equal, Singleton will now receive another funding boost. That is, if the money is spent on merit. Sadly, that has not been the case with a few recent programs including the now infamous “sports rorts” scheme.

Here in Singleton we have two big projects that are stand-outs in merit terms and could be done quickly. The Singleton by-pass and the section of the New England Highway between the Hunter Expressway and Singleton. They will not only improve safety and amenity, they’ll boost our economy.

Readers can be sure I have been, and will, continue to take up the fight in Canberra.


Debate continues over whether JobKeeper payments should be extended beyond September. The Government has the package under review and has deferred any announcements beyond the Eden-Monaro by-election. Surprise, surprise.

No one is suggesting it’s a simple question. Borrowing more money to extend the various support measures is not an attractive proposition. But the alternative could be far worse as businesses continue to shed workers, or close. It’s worth remembering too, that the longer the unemployment queue grows the more government tax revenues fall and unemployment payments rise. So, spending more can save money in net terms.


I welcome Singleton Council’s decision to honour John Martin with the title Honorary Freeman of the City. I could think of no more worthy citizen than the former Mayor.

John was first elected to Council in 1965, just three years after my birth. His sixty years serving Council and the community have been extraordinary, as has his dedicated service to the Emergency Services. To use a colloquial term John “knows where all the bodies are buried” and uses his historic knowledge of the Shire and its people to guide today’s decisions. Then, of course, there is also his work with organisations like APEX and Meals-on-Wheels.

Congratulations John, well deserved.


Parliament has gone into its Winter break and I look forward to COVID 19 restrictions being further loosened so that I can return to normal activities in the electorate. The formal and informal interaction I have with community leaders and other people at functions and meetings are an invaluable part of the task of parliamentary representation.