That Newcastle Airport's $66million Code E runway upgrade has been green-lit by the federal government is recognition of Newcastle's rapidly expanding national importance.
Friday's much-anticipated funding announcement by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, effectively brings Newcastle and the Hunter three hours closer to the rest of the world, allowing for direct passenger flights between Newcastle and countries including the US, China, Singapore, Russia, Japan and South Africa.
The runway upgrade will allow long-haul aircraft such as Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s to fly in and out of Williamtown, creating 4400 full-time jobs over the next two decades, more than $12 billion in economic growth and more opportunities to showcase the region on an international stage.
The NSW Government has already designated Newcastle Airport and the global defence and aerospace precinct it sits within as a Special Activation Precinct. This fast-tracks development of the area by bringing together various government agencies to plan, coordinate and deliver successful precincts, in recognition of its job creating potential.
Our strong, united and consistent advocacy to the federal government has paid off, with an international airport 35 minutes from the Newcastle CBD now a reality.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, City of Newcastle prepared compelling reports on the economic potential of several key projects, including the Newcastle Airport Expansion and Broadmeadow Precinct Regeneration, to the regional, state and national economies.
In response, and despite being at the height of the pandemic in March 2020, Infrastructure Australia - the federal government's national infrastructure adviser - agreed to come to Newcastle and met with myself and the CEO of City of Newcastle, where we left nothing on the table in our pitch for both projects to be nationally recognised.
Setting the agenda for national investment opportunities, both projects were identified on Infrastructure Australia's annual priority list, which evidently has proven critical to attracting funding for the Newcastle Airport Expansion as we emerge from a global pandemic.
As we consider our growing city's needs through the lens of a post COVID-19 economy, new infrastructure, along with a skilled local population, will prove key to enabling economic opportunities.
Newcastle has positioned itself as a city on the rise, undergoing record development and transformation and offering new opportunities.
New and potential investment in the region by the state and federal Governments demonstrates a strong commitment to and investment in Newcastle and its emerging global status.
We're ready for take-off.
Nuatali Nelmes is the Lord Mayor of the City of Newcastle
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