The New South Wales Government has decided to broaden the eligibility criteria for Resources for Regions funding, with 11 communities eligible for funding under the 2014–2015 program.
“Mining is a critical contributor to the NSW economy and a crucial job creator in the regions, but it puts extra pressure on everything from schools to hospitals, roads to recreational facilities and housing to child care services. Over the four years of Resources for Regions, the NSW Liberal & Nationals Government will provide at least $160 million to communities experiencing unique direct and indirect pressures on their infrastructure and services as a result of mining activity,” said Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services Andrew Stoner in a media release.
“For the first time Broken Hill, Cessnock and Maitland LGAs will be able to put their hand up for Resources for Regions funding. They will join the eight existing eligible communities of Cobar, Lithgow, Mid-Western, Muswellbrook, Narrabri, Newcastle, Singleton and Wollongong.”
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) immediately responded to the announcement, welcoming the decision to broaden eligibility for the Resources for Regions program, but also stressing the need for further funding support to mining communities.
“NSW’s Resources for Regions program is a good start but it needs more investment. Furthermore, it is currently mostly allocated to infrastructure like roads that are either public works the government should be undertaking anyway or that directly benefit mining companies. We need more investment in social infrastructure like schools and sporting grounds to attract residents and support strong, thriving communities in mining regions into the future,” said Wayne McAndrew, CFMEU Mining and Energy Vice President.
“It is often easier for mining companies to hire skilled workers from afar than offer opportunities to local workers. But providing jobs and training is the best way mining companies can provide direct benefits to local communities. Where they can, job opportunities should always be offered locally first. The approval of a number of temporary workers’ camps in regional NSW is a concerning development that will give mining companies greater opportunity to overlook locals.”