NEWCASTLE mayor Nuatali Nelmes has called on the Premier to clarify the status of Newcastle once and for all.
The call comes after Deputy Premier John Barilaro flagged plans to make Newcastle ineligible to receive a share of the $4.15 billion earned from the sell-off of the NSW Government's share of the Snowy Hydro Scheme.
Cr Nelmes said the approach to Newcastle was “inconsistent” and left the city without certainty when it came to funding applications.
"The NSW Government will often declare Newcastle as regional, with significant documents such as the Hunter Regional Plan 2036 having Newcastle as the urban heart of the regional Hunter," said Councillor Nelmes.
The mayor pointed out NSW Government's very own Department of Planning office is signposted as the Newcastle Regional Office.
While the NSW Government's Invest in New South Wales website, administered by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, encourages investment into the Hunter Region declaring "the Hunter Region is the largest regional economy in Australia and NSW, and home to Greater Newcastle, the seventh largest urban area in Australia".
Despite this, Newcastle is ineligible to apply for funding from the Regional Growth Fund and the Stronger Communities Fund.
Cr Nelmes said this made the city was ineligible to apply for funding for the upgrade of Newcastle Art Gallery from the $100 million Regional Cultural Fund for Cultural Infrastructure.
The Federal Government's Building Better Regions Fund describes regional Australia as being: “all areas outside the major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra”.
Independent experts such as the Regional Australia Institute have supported this definition.
According to the State Government, Lake Macquarie is considered definitively regional despite some suburbs in that local government area being only minutes from the Newcastle CBD.
"This means that suburbs like Adamstown Heights are regional, but Adamstown and Broadmeadow are not,” Cr Nelmes said.
"The City of Newcastle points to the New South Wales Government's Future Transport 2056 strategy which defines Greater Newcastle as 'a key Global Gateway City with a catchment of over 1 million people,' as an example of the State Government recognising the City of Newcastle as an emerging global City and our status as a metropolitan City,” Cr Nelmes said.
"Ultimately, it is my belief that as an emerging global city, Newcastle should be considered metropolitan.
"But what that requires is consistency from the NSW Government and investment to the scale befitting a metropolitan City which is the economic powerhouse of the state."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.