OPINION: No mistake, it’s a triumph for our city

By , 10/07/2019 12:24

IN what was just another day for most towns and cities across the state of NSW yesterday, Newcastle celebrated a big vote of confidence in our future.

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: Yesterday’s budget announcements will help our beautiful city reach its potential.

The Newcastle CBD will undergo a long-awaited metamorphosis and a world-class future awaits us. It’s time to make the most of the opportunities in front of us. It’s time for the naysayers to leave the so-called “debate” surrounding the urban renewal of Newcastle and it’s time for the overwhelming majority of people to step up and support the exciting future that this opportunity presents for us and for future generations.

Yesterday’s NSW state budget, delivered by Treasurer Mike Baird, sent a strong message to the people of Newcastle, the Hunter and the state of NSW that our city does matter and it is poised for great things.

The announcement of $340 million in funding for the revitalisation of Newcastle is certainly welcome news. The funding is subject to the long-term lease of the Port of Newcastle and we look forward to the detail of that proposal and what it will mean for the future growth and diversification of the Port.

Make no mistake, the Port of Newcastle is the most important infrastructure asset in our region and deserves the opportunity to have its potential fully realised well into the future.

The Port of Newcastle is a highly significant player in the world coal export market. This is no secret to the people of the Hunter region and it is one of the key economic drivers for NSW and will continue to contribute strongly to the export growth of the nation. Yet most people are usually not aware of the highly diversified nature of our port. Numerous commodities are moved on a daily basis through our port and the work of the Newcastle Port Corporation to actively attract and grow investment in a range of commodities must be clearly recognised and commended.

The NSW government has indicated that the time is right to take the Port of Newcastle to the next stage of growth. It will be vital to ensure that the long-term lease process achieves the very best result for our region and our port.

The funding committed by government will be used to implement the first stage of a light rail service between Wickham and Newcastle with the potential for further investment in a wider light rail system to improve access in and around Newcastle and its surrounding centres.

We look forward to hearing more detail about the allocation of this funding and how it will be used to drive the development of a centre of activity in the city.

The Chamber has long advocated for the needs of our region and the Newcastle CBD. Building a city that is dynamic and vibrant and will attract people to the region is key to our region’s continued success. The NSW Treasurer, Mike Baird, handed down his third state budget for the O’Farrell government and there can be no denying the strong focus and commitment to delivering infrastructure that will drive investment.

Like elsewhere around the state, business confidence in the Hunter is low and the region’s appetite for economic stimulation and growth is stronger than ever.

This investment will go a long way towards realising the greater potential of our city and provide an effective transport solution that will deliver the necessary infrastructure to enable development and growth.

I am excited by the prospects this new initiative will deliver. Newcastle is the second largest city in NSW and this will put us firmly on the map in terms of our national prominence. It will unlock our city as a world-class place to live and do business.

In conjunction with other key pieces of the urban renewal puzzle, including the legal precinct and the university precinct, this major initiative will complete the work needed to bring about significant change and revitalisation to our city.

This state budget has recognised Newcastle as a city that will continue to deliver great things for NSW. If our city and region are to step up and deliver the goods, then we need the right framework for growth and investment.

This budget commitment of $340 million will combine with the funding of $120 million promised late last year to create a very real platform for delivery of a signature urban renewal project and a huge win for Newcastle and the Hunter.

Richard Anicich is the president of the Hunter Business Chamber.

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