Government to reassess Gunnedah’s mining royalty funding

THE state government will reassess Gunnedah’s claims to receiving crucial infrastructure funding after grossly miscalculating the impact of mining on the region.

Gunnedah Shire Council this week once again failed to qualify for Resources for Regions money despite millions in mining royalties being generated in the shire.

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson called a meeting at Parliament House in Sydney yesterday to secure assurances the Department of Trade and Investment will review its decision.

“There is no doubt that Gunnedah is impacted by mining in various ways and they should be included in the Resources for Regions program,” he said.

The state government grants a portion of the royalties to help local government areas (LGAs) cope with the demands on their infrastructure from the mining industry.

Only 11 LGAs throughout the state, including Narrabri, which has received $18 million, are currently eligible under the criteria to apply for the Resources for Regions funding.

But Gunnedah Shire Council maintains its ranking as the 21st “most mining-affected” area does not reflect the true burden of the industry on its infrastructure.

It says the government’s assessment stated the shire is subject to only 40 truck movements a day when the real figure is in excess of 740.

The council also claims the government underestimated the significance of mining-related employment in the shire, which the Minerals Council places at 20.2 per cent.

Gunnedah mayor Owen Hasler said he welcomed the opportunity to compile a new submission to go before the department for assessment.

“The data used by the government in their assessment differs greatly from what actually happens on the ground, particularly relating to truck movements and population related to mining,” he said.

Gunnedah’s quest to receive its rightful slice of the mining boom pie has attracted support from several key industry groups, including the Association of Mining Related Councils (AMRC) and NSW Farmers.

Councillor Col Mitchell of the AMRC, which represents 24 councils, said it had been lobbying deputy premier Andrew Stoner to include more LGAs.

“It is disappointing other member councils in emerging coal and mineral mining areas around the state have not been included under the criteria,” he said.

NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson, who sits on the Infrastructure NSW panel that allocates funding, said more money was needed for regional communities.

She said that although the state government was providing about $160 million to the 11 LGAs over four years, it represented a fraction of the royalties paid by mines.

“We all know that mining companies contribute a much greater amount of royalties to the government than that which is being poured back into the community,” she said.

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