NSW Opposition Leader is in Singleton for the next couple of days discussing everything from the Singleton Bypass to TAFE.
"It's terrific, particularly the Hunter because I grew up in this region and obviously spent a lot of time here and this is my third visit to the region since becoming Leader," Jodi McKay told Radio Hunter Valley.
NSW Labor on a whole demanding the Berejiklian Government speed up the Singleton Bypass project, and are also demanding they come clean about its promise to build the bypass, amid growing doubts about its ability to deliver the desperately needed road.
"Muswellbrook [Bypass] seems to be progressing and that's positive," said Jodi McKay.
"Singleton does seemingly hang on what the Federal Government will do so there's been very little money, about 1% of the total cost indicated within the 2019/20 budget, there's about 20% that the Government has promised but we don't know where that money is and of course the rest of the project remains unfunded."
"I think what we would like, as the Opposition and I think its only fair for the people of Singleton is a timeline on when construction will start and when the bypass will be opened,"
"What is concerning about this project is that the government only has 20 % of the funding," she said.
Labor Shadow Minister for the Hunter Clayton Barr said the Singleton community can’t wait any longer.
“The bypass will remove up to 15,000 vehicles a day from the CBD. This will completely transform Singleton for the better. You know that when there is no timeline that the Government is not serious and that is a slap in the face for Singleton and the people of the Hunter,” Clayton Barr said.
The community received an update on the progress of planning for the Singleton bypass as recently as this month.
TAFE is also being discussed at Shadow cabinet meetings today with Labor slamming the Berejiklian Government again on what they believe is the "sorry state of TAFE in Singleton, where no metalworking, mining or agricultural apprenticeship courses are on offer".
"We think that the offering of TAFE in Singleton has been watered down in a really distressing way and in a really disappointing way for the community. TAFE at Singleton is effectively what is called a CLC, a shopfront, and there are no apprenticeship courses offered at Singleton at all, now here you have a really focused industrial area around the Upper Hunter so Singleton and Muswellbrook and you have no TAFE apprenticeship offered at all," said Jodi McKay.
"What we know is that the government knows they have a problem with TAFE so this week they've launched a so called review of TAFE, I mean we could've told them that they've pretty much destroyed TAFE."
Speaking in Singleton today, Jodi McKay added that regional centres like Singleton are crying out for more skilled workers and deserve investment.
“I meant it when I said I would be a leader for regional and rural NSW. That is why I have brought my Shadow Cabinet here today. And that is why I firmly believe Singleton deserves real and meaningful investment in education and training,” Jodi McKay said.
Jodi McKay on her last visit to Singleton in November 2019.
Meantime, Upper Hunter MP and Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources Michael Johnsen is using the NSW Opposition Leader's visit to the Upper Hunter to challenged the NSW Labor Party to support the prohibition of foreign development considerations (scope 3 emissions) in the NSW Planning process.
Michael Johnsen said that given the importance of mining and infrastructure development to working families and communities in Upper Hunter that NSW Labor must step up to the mark and formerly support the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Territorial Limits) Bill.
“The object of this Bill is to formally prohibit the imposition of conditions of a development consent in the planning process that that takes into account
developments occurring outside Australia or any impact of that foreign development,”
“The NSW Coalition Government introduced this common-sense bill to ensure that the interests of working communities and families were in no way disadvantaged in the planning process, let alone by events beyond our shores."
“I join with many in our community in wondering why decisions made by foreign governments and companies should in anyway afflict our communities in Upper
Hunter and beyond, as Labor seem to think they should?”
Jodi McKay told Radio Hunter Valley they are waiting on the results of an inquiry into the Bill before they make a decision.
"So my understanding is that that bill is now before an Upper House committee, that committee will report back later next month, possibly the 17th, there is some chance that committee report could be handed down next week. We will go through a shadow cabinet process based on what that committee report says."
"I understand there are real significant issues with the bill that that the committee will find but we will consider that, I also understand that the Minerals Council who are obviously supportive of scope 3 being taken out of the planning process have major concerns with the bill so I think what's important is that we actually look at is what the inquiry comes back with and we will consider that," she said.
"I think it depends on how they're considered, there has obviously been some concern from the Minerals Council, where you've got the environmental groups on the other side that feel very differently. Our immediate reaction was to perhaps lean towards supporting this but I think it is important to understand now you've got all of the stakeholders unhappy with the current bill."
"It's not simply about whether you support scope 3 or not, its actually about how you are going to change the planning process and whether that will bring about a better outcome, said Jodi McKay.
Jodi McKay will tomorrow give her first major event speech since becoming the NSW Labor Leader at the Country Labor Conference in Singleton.
Image credit: Jodi Mckay, NSW Opposition Leader