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Upper Hunter councils seek support ahead of Mt Arthur closure

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In the wake of Mt Arthur’s slated closure, two Upper Hunter councils are joining forces to ensure their respective communities survive long into the future.

Singleton mayor Sue Moore and her Muswellbrook Shire counterpart Steve Reynolds will seek assistance from the NSW Government to support the economic evolution of the region following BHP’s recent announcement.

After the company’s latest sale bid failed to eventuate, the mining giant revealed this month it would wind up operations at the site in 2030, a decision that impacts up to 2,000 employees and hundreds of local businesses throughout the Hunter Valley.

Now, in another body blow to the Upper Hunter, Tuesday’s NSW Budget failed to deliver an injection of funds or clarity around the administration of the $25 million Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund.

The importance of the initiative is a key item in Singleton’s Advocacy Agenda, along with the establishment of a statutory body.

Cr Moore said if the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund was truly designed to assist mining communities to develop and evolve their industry base in the long-term, then this was when it should be put to use.

She has met with Cr Reynolds and the pair will demand action by the federal and state governments, not just to help the people of the Upper Hunter but the region as a whole.

“Singleton and Muswellbrook councils are being proactive to put measures in place to help our community and economy thrive into the future,” Cr Moore stated.

“But, BHP’s announcement reinforces there are decisions outside our control that have significant impacts.

“We need action from all levels of government to support the regions that have supported the prosperity of NSW and our nation through royalties, jobs and exports.

“We’re not looking for promises in 2023 at the next state election.

“We need action on the ground now so that the people of the Upper Hunter can be optimistic about their future, the future of our local community, and the future of our local economy.

“Cr Reynolds and I would like a commitment to real and tangible leadership, a workable legislative framework, resourcing that reflects the size of the job ahead, transparent governance and accountability to this region.

“Increases in allocations through the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund and a properly constructed and resourced statutory body would be a good place to start.”

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