In just a few weeks our state will decide who will lead us for the next four years.
As we head to polls, our region will play a critical role in this decision, and we must capitalise on what the Hunter needs to remain one of the most liveable places in the nation.
The Hunter is Australia’s largest regional economy with more than $57 billion in economic output.
The region is prospering, supported by a highly professional and skilled workforce and strong education, health, energy, resources, tourism, creative industries, manufacturing and defence sectors.
This is underpinned by a significant and diversified property sector.
At the heart of the Hunter is a number of growing catalyst city centres, undergoing transformation through public and private investment with projected population growth exceeding expectations.
Bearing this in mind, the Property Council of Australia has identified several key election recommendations that will play a key role in our region’s future.
But in order to implement these proposals, federal, state and local government should firstly work together under a City Partnership model.
City Deals are a new approach in Australia to bring together the three levels of government, the community and the private sector.
The partnership focuses on aligning planning, investment and governance to accelerate growth and job creation, stimulate urban renewal and drive economic reforms to secure the future prosperity and liveability of our cities.
This would help build capacity and diversity at Newcastle Airport and Newcastle Port to support growth of the regional economy.
Which includes the commitment of funding to and implementation of the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct.
From there we need to establish a Hunter infrastructure fund to unlock housing in the Hunter and extend Newcastle Mines Grouting Fund to cover NSW.
A report prepared for Shelter NSW revealed the Hunter is now home to five out of the 10 local government areas with the highest housing need and our rental vacancies are also some of the worst in the state.
Several times now we have called on the next state government to crack down on housing targets and intervene when they are not being met, ‘red carding’ local councils which do not deliver.
More needs to be done to ensure our councils are delivering their fair share of additional housing supply.
We can’t afford to be limping to the finish line on housing supply.
It’s critical we shift our focus toward rewarding those local councils that deliver while red carding councils who refuse to share in the growth agenda of the state.
Transport is also key to our future, we must commit to fast rail between Newcastle and Sydney, with inclusion of Wi-fi enabled carriages, to make commuting more efficient and boost economic activity in both cities.
This also goes for the delivery of freight rail and passenger transport improvements that will provide a more efficient network with high frequency connections to key centres across the region.
Especially for the extension of the Light Rail system to Broadmeadow and Callaghan.
Without this, we could be left behind in the Greater Cities Commission six-city mega region strategy, as migration decides where to call their home in the GCC vision.
Finally, we must work with community and industry to accelerate plans for Hunter Park.
A key benefit for the region of Hunter Park is jobs.
Once complete, the project would create new jobs in entertainment and sporting related industries including, tourism, medical and retailing as part of a new health, education and innovation ecosystem similar to the successful University of Wollongong innovation campus.
We are so lucky to call this place home and have such great potential.
Let’s unlock that potential to ensure future generations can continue to live work and play in the Hunter and remain lucky.