Councils call for state funding to help with drought

BUDGET WISHES: Namoi Unlimited chairman says the drought is testing local government too. Photo: Gareth Gardner 010618GGB003
BUDGET WISHES: Namoi Unlimited chairman says the drought is testing local government too. Photo: Gareth Gardner 010618GGB003

MAYOR Col Murray has called on the state government to show some confidence in Tamworth to keep the town growing.

In less than two weeks, the state government will drop its last budget before the 2019 election and the mayor said the region needs some budget love to spark more interest from private investors.

The deputy premier John Barilaro has pegged Tamworth as a regional centre which could be home to 100,000 people in the future, which some agree is achievable if planning begins now.

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“I'm quite confident we will see our population growth ramp-up over next few years,” Cr Murray said.

“The intermodal terminal and things like international freight capacity at the airport are major key investments that allow that population growth to happen.”

But he said the government needed to invest in Tamworth to make it a reality.

“The private sector needs to see the government demonstrating confidence in a regional city like Tamworth,” he said.

He believed there could be statewide benefits on offer from backing Tamworth.

“That gets growth in the economy and GDP of the region,” he said.

“It puts growth in state economy and continues to get  freight into Port Botany.

“It means it’s more efficient for the businesses that are exporting from the region.”

Like any other part of the community, local governments are being affected by the ongoing dry times, and Namoi Unlimited chairman Jamie Chaffey said pressure is building on councils maintaining unsealed roads.

“All parts of the community are impacted by drought and local government is not shielded from that,” Cr Chaffey said.

“The cost of maintaining unsealed rural roads has increased as a result of the dry times.”

He said money should continue to flow from the upcoming state budget for regional job creation.

“Most rural communities in NSW are in need of population initiatives,” he said.

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