The impact of energy transition on the Hunter's economy is weighing heavily on the minds of the region's voters heading into this weekend's election, new polling shows.
Hunter Jobs Alliance-commissioned polling of seats across the Hunter found an overwhelming majority of those surveyed agreed that it was likely the Hunter would see large economic changes caused by shifts in mining and energy production in the next 15 years.
Voters in the seats of Upper Hunter (72.4 per cent) and Lake Macquarie (72.8 per cent) believed it was more likely they would be directly impacted by the changes than those in surrounding Labor-held electorates (69.2 per cent).
The phone poll of 2800 people was conducted by market research firm Community Engagement between the 9th and 16th of March.
Between 63.4 per cent and 64 per cent of respondents agreed that "urgent action" should be taken to respond to the economic changes in the region's economy.
Seventy per cent of voters in Labor seats, 67.8 per cent in Lake Macquarie and 65.7 per cent in Upper Hunter indicated they supported the establishment of a regional Hunter Valley Authority to coordinate responses to economic change, including attracting jobs and investment and assisting workers.
"By big, big margins, voters support specific policies from government. Whether they live in the Upper Hunter, Lake Macquarie, Maitland or Newcastle; people back a Hunter regional authority and other practical, tangible actions," Hunter Jobs Alliance coordinator Warrick Jordan said.
"There's a lot of evidence behind policies like a regional authority, dedicated training facilities for emerging industries, and regional diversification funds. These policies are working elsewhere, and they are overwhelmingly popular. That's a very strong foundation for delivery for whoever forms government in NSW next week."
State Labor last week committed to the creation of a Hunter clean energy transition authority. It said the authority, which does not have a funding allocation, would play a key role in skills training and creating new job opportunities. It would also work in partnership with a proposed TAFE manufacturing centre of excellence based in the Hunter.
The Greens also announced its intention to establish a NSW transition authority funded by progressive coal royalties if the party obtains the balance of power in a minority Labor government.
The NSW government has committed at least $25 million each year from mining royalties to support coal mining communities in NSW through the fund.
Voters across the region uniformly agreed the figure was too little given the scale of the economic disruption.
Sixty five per cent of those in the seat of Upper Hunter, 60.7 per cent in Lake Macquarie and 65.6 per cent in Labor held seats indicated support for doubling the rejuvenation fund.
"The diversification fund for mining regions is clearly very popular. Based on the data it looks like there's a significant appetite for increased funding, and people are weighing up what they think the right figure should be," Mr Jordan said.
"As we see funds start to be expended on the ground, and a more fully formed discussion about what money should be spent on, we'd anticipate that backing for more diversification funds will increase, from an already strong base."
The State Government has invested $330 million in new TAFE institutes in Sydney for digital and construction jobs. The survey indicated there was a strong appetite for a similar facility to support clean energy industries, with 78 per cent support across the Lower Hunter and 68 per cent support in the Upper Hunter.
"There's widespread backing for such a facility from Business Hunter, Committee for Hunter and the University," Mr Jordan said.
"Given the massive state-wide clean energy pipeline, and emerging skills shortages, there is a strong case for the Hunter to be the NSW base for this training, and the community strongly backs this idea."
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