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  • Rikki Lambert

NSW Opposition hunting for more royalties back to mining communities

NSW Labor says it will overhaul a state government program to redirect resource royalties back to mining communities, ensuring those regions receive at least $100 million per year from the scheme.

With NSW's Upper Hunter by-election less than a week away, Opposition Leader Jodi McKay on Sunday announced her party would seek to overhaul the government's Resources for Regions program.

It cannot take this step unless it wins the 2023 state election.

Under Labor's plan, mining communities would receive at least $100 million per year in mining royalties paid to the state government.

That money could then be used on local services, Labor argues, with Ms McKay saying in a statement:

"Labor will help councils in mining communities plan for the future and attract investment.
"This is hugely important to support new industries and jobs and make sure the Upper Hunter gets its fair share for the future."

Upper Hunter Labor candidate Jeff Drayton said the government receives $800 million in mining royalties from the region, and isn't giving enough back.

But the government says it has injected $345 million into local mining communities since the establishment of Resources for Regions in 2012.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro in November unveiled the seventh round of the scheme, which included 84 projects in 24 mining-related NSW regions.

Some $75 million has been set aside for the eighth round of the program.

Labor has throughout the Upper Hunter campaign declined to endorse a ban on new coal mines in the region, despite polling from the Australia Institute last month suggesting a coal mine moratorium may prove popular.

The Australia Institute poll of 668 people in the electorate found 57.4 per cent support for a moratorium on new coal mine approvals and a remediation plan for existing mines, against 35.1 per cent who oppose the measures.

Mr Drayton is a former coal miner and CFMEU representative.

The by-election was sparked by Nationals MP Michael Johnsen's resignation in late March after being accused of raping a sex worker in 2019.

Mr Johnsen denies the allegations and has not been charged.

Should the Nationals fail to retain the seat on May 22, Gladys Berejiklian's government could fall up to three seats in minority.


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