THEY’RE the local government areas flooding with miners and associated contractors, but Narrabri, Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains shire councils have failed to make the cut for round two funding under the Resources for Regions program.
The NSW government announced yesterday it will invest $41.9 million in infrastructure projects in mining communities – but not one North West project has been allocated money.
Gunnedah and Liverpool Plains weren’t expected to receive funding under this round due to the priority-based arrangement, but the decision has left Narrabri, a major mining centre with a 502-room mining village, with no money for the town’s critical airport upgrade.
Narrabri mayor Conrad Bolton was disappointed with the decision, but he’s hopeful the shire’s exclusion from round two means it will be shortlisted for round three, to be announced next March.
“When you want to get things going to support the activities that are coming to the shire, you’ve got to invest in the town and put infrastructure in place,” Cr Bolton said.
“They could have picked up at least one of our projects.”
At the top of the council’s wishlist is the Narrabri airport upgrade.
“It’s the gateway into our shire and it needs to be supported and expanded to be able to cater for the fly-in-fly-out workers and the larger aircraft that will transport those people in and out of Narrabri,” Cr Bolton said.
“At the moment our airport capacity is the Brindabella-sized 19-seat aircraft. We just don’t have the capacity to safely manoeuvre larger aircraft.
“The accommodation is in place with the MAC village. Now we’re waiting on the transport upgrade to provide access into the town.”
Narrabri’s water supply and Boggabri’s sewerage system are other priorities, along with an upgrade of the Narrabri Nurruby childcare centre, the improvement of the single-lane Tarriaro Bridge on Old Gunnedah Rd and the establishment of a childcare centre in Boggabri.
Narrabri is expecting another 1500 homes to be built in the next six years and is already on permanent water restrictions due to the outdated system.
“These are the critical infrastructure upgrades that we need to allow us to accommodate the extractive industries and the related service industries,” Cr Bolton said.
“We can’t do that without the state reinvesting the royalty money in the Narrabri shire.”
Gunnedah Shire Council didn’t expect to be in this round of funding after a part of the application process required wasn’t submitted.
The town has made its case to deputy premier Andrew Stoner and is also hopeful of round three funding.
“We’re expecting our case to be much stronger next year if approval is given to the Shenhua or Vickery mines,” mayor Owen Hasler said.
With only one mine in the shire, Whitehaven’s Werris Creek Mine, Liverpool Plains mayor Ian Lobsey isn’t holding out hope for the funding.
“We certainly all need the funding but Narrabri and Gunnedah would get the funding before us,” he said.