The question of whether Newcastle is regional or metropolitan has been a long-running topic. Newcastle is often referenced in regional policy documents but left to compete with Sydney council areas for government grants.
The lack of clarity has cut the city out of funding opportunities.
A 2020 Hunter Research Foundation Centre paper found Newcastle was denied eligibility for $5.86 billion in regional funding - with an approximate share of $170.9 million, despite surrounding LGAs such as Lake Macquarie and Central Coast meeting the criteria.
While the issue spans numerous departments and funding programs, the budget provides an opportunity for the government to clarify where Newcastle stands.
The Newcastle Herald understands the Labor government's first state budget will not specifically address Newcastle's classification, but the government has flagged clarifying the matter in future.
The last budget in 2022 included the John Hunter Health and Innovation Precinct project in the "regional" NSW budget, but it included a footnote saying Newcastle was not considered part of regional NSW.
There has been some progress since then on Newcastle's classification.
The city was included as an eligible LGA in the 2023 electric vehicle kerbside charging grant program alongside council areas in Sydney after previously being ineligible for the funding.
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