Hunter coal mining royalties have helped fuel a massive spending spree as part of a 'once in a generation reform' state budget.
Key Hunter projects, such as the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct, the new Lake Macquarie Sport and Recreation Centre, the Newcastle Education Campus and major road projects feature in a finely tuned election budget.
The budget papers show mining royalties are forecast to be $810 million higher in 2021-22 and $3.8 billion (or 51.9 per cent) higher over the four years to 2025-26, relative to expectations at the 2021-22 half-yearly review.
Thermal coal prices began rising very quickly in late 2021 and into 2022. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has created significant and long-lasting energy supply shortages and uncertainty for global commodity markets.
"Thermal coal prices peaked at more than four times their long-run average in May 2022. Thermal coal prices are now expected to be materially higher over the four years to 2025-26, relative to 2021-22 half-yearly review forecasts," the budget papers say.
Despite the royalties bonanza, the $25million Royalties for Rejuvenation fund, which was created to assist mining affected communities transition to a clean energy future, remains unchanged.
The budget allocates $25million for pre-delivery works at the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct.
The 10,000 hectare precinct aims to create a defence and aerospace hub that will boost the regional economy by generating new jobs.
Five million has been allocated to the establishment of a new $40million Lake Macquarie Sport and recreation centre at Morisset , to replace the Myuna Bay Centre that was forced to close in 2019 due to concerns about the stability of the Eraring coal ash dam.
The highlight of the region's education spending is $16.6 million for the development of the Newcastle education precinct, which will be contained within the boundary of the existing high school.
The campus was first mooted as a wider precinct possibly incorporating new community recreation facilities at National Park.
The government will also spend $5.6million and $5 respectively next year to continue upgrades at Hunter River High School and Irrawang High School.
While light on detail, the promise of faster train travel between Newcastle and Sydney was once again featured in the budget with, $95 million to be spent next year as part of a $274.5 million four year detailed planning package to deliver "fast, frequent and reliable connections between Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle".
A further $1.4billion will be spent over the next four years for continued planning on the M1 extension to Raymond Terrace. Early work will also commence on the widening of the Hexham straight.
The final stage of the Newcastle Inner City Bypass from Rankin Park to Jesmond has moved a step closer to completion with a further $37.8 million committed to the project next financial year.
The government will invest $156.3million over the next four years on the Nelson Bay Road upgrade, including the commencement of work on a 1 kilometre of road between Salt Ash and Bobs Farm.
Upper Hunter projects will receive a boost with $36.6million to continue construction of the New England Highway upgrade between Belford and the Golden Highway.
Almost $20million will be spent on continued planning and pre-construction works on the Singleton bypass.
As the Newcastle Herald reported on Monday, a new $13million residential eating disorders facility at Charlestown and the $22 million Maitland Integrated Community and Community Mental Health Service have received funding.
The government will invest a further $89.4 million next into the $835millon John Hunter Health and Innovation Precinct
A further $33.6million will be spent on the $470million new Maitland Hospital Maitland Hospital, while another $6million will be spent on the hospital's car park development.
Stage 3 of the $45million Muswellbrook Hospital redevelopment will receive $9.9million, while $500,000 will be spent on the $11.4million Cessnock Hospital Redevelopment.
Twelve million dollars was allocated for the construction of a new Singleton Police Station, which was promised in last year's Upper Hunter by-election. Another $3.4million will be spent upgrading Newcastle police station.
The Hunter will also benefit from significant investment in renewable infrastructure over the next four years.
The government is investing an additional $50.4 million to accelerate Renewable Energy Zone development in light of earlier-than-expected thermal power plant closures.
The budget papers confirm the government's commitment to the construction of the 700 megawatt Waratah battery, which will be located near Eraring power station, however the project did not receive funding.
Despite booming interest in the potential of Hunter as a hydrogen hub, only $5million was allocated to establish a prototyping and manufacturing facility for hydrogen energy storage.
No other details of the project were provided in the budget.
Flood-prone areas of the Hunter, particularly around Maitland, will benefit from $21.5 million in additional funding over eight years to maintain the Hunter Valley Flood Mitigation Scheme to help minimise flood risk.
Other Hunter projects to receive funding included the World Championship Air Race, to be held at Make Macquarie in November 2022, which received $2.5 million.
The government has allocated $785,527 to establish the Biraban Local Aboriginal Land Council community centre, while $6.6 million has been provided to deliver new and upgraded quality homes for First Nations people through the Aboriginal Housing Office.
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