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Tuesday, 20 September 1983
Page: 1034

Mr O'KEEFE(10.40) —The upper Hunter River area centred on Singleton and Muswellbrook contains vast resources of easily accessible coal deposits for the local and export markets. Currently there are 10 major coal mines and two large power stations. Bayswater station is currently under construction. There are countless opportunities for further massive capital investment. The lack of adequate infrastructure and effective forward planning could place this exciting prospect in jeopardy. I shall detail some of the areas requiring urgent consideration and front-end financing. Heavy transport movements are placing severe strains on the national, State and local road systems, requiring massive injections of public funds to bring the New England Highway to a safe standard and to upgrade coal haulage routes. The local bridge network is in a deplorable state and a bridge subsidy scheme should be implemented. In regard to water supply and sewerage, essential services are deficient in the coal development areas. Singleton, Muswellbrook, Scone and Denman are all important towns with major augmentation schemes in the pipeline. The total cost of these schemes will exceed $30m and the burden of the local council's debts cannot be afforded by the existing population when the expanded population will be the major beneficiary.

There is a need for sporting and recreation facilities. With a progressively younger population age, due to the influx of mine workers and associated service industries, the resource development areas urgently require upgraded sporting facilities. Deficiencies exist in the area of open space available in many localities. There is a lack of adequate indoor sporting stadiums in some towns and a need for the employment of recreation officers. A general need exists for expert co-ordination of sporting services in those key towns, which would help to make better use of existing services and improve the standard of coaching and performance.

There is a need for child care and youth facilities. Recent studies arising from the Hunter social development program have revealed a grave deficiency in the standard and extent of child care and youth services available in the resource development areas of the upper Hunter. All of these communities require the employment of youth development officers and funding for youth service centres. Similarly, with the influx of many young married people with no social or family connections in the Hunter region, there has been a growing need for more child care centres and childhood services. Requirements include occasional day care, long term day care, and childhood services to remote rural areas.

There are many needs for additional infrastructure to service the aged populations of the Hunter region. These include many more senior citizens centres, nursing and convalescent homes, day care programs, and senior citizens support staffing in local government and community areas. The upper Hunter region will experience rapid population growth, with some 17 new coal mines planned to be developed by the 1990s and expansion of the power generation industry. In excess of 5,000 new jobs can be generated in this region with good planning and favourable marketing arrangements. This growth will be hampered unless the constraints to growth are recognised and overcome. These include the financial and organisational requirements involved in providing the necessary physical and social infrastructure. This effort cannot be left to the industry and local community but should be shared in an equitable manner between all tiers of government and the relevant resource sector. The State and Federal governments extract royalties from the mining companies. The mine owners also should be involved. This great industry is of benefit not only to the Hunter Valley but also to the country generally. A major co-operative effort by government and the private sector will be required if we are to bring about economic recovery in this area.