A blame game has erupted in the wake of Maitland missing out on millions of dollars in state government funds to compensate communities affected by coal mining.
To be eligible for the Resources for Regions funding councils had to complete a one-page survey conducted by the Local Government and Shires Association.
The survey sought details on whether there were mining ventures in the local government area, whether it was a transport route or living hub for mine workers, and if there was an additional burden on existing infrastructure.
But Maitland City Council was not on the list of survey respondents, according to a state government document seen by the Mercury on Thursday. This is the second consecutive year the council has been classed as “not mining affected”.
Singleton, Muswellbrook Newcastle, Cobar, Narrabri and Lithgow were listed in the document as having completed the survey and all have been approved to receive funds.
Maitland MP Robyn Parker said Maitland LGA was ranked as a Tier 3 area and only Tier 1 and Tier 2 LGAs received funding in this round.
She said Newcastle was included because of the truck movements it experiences and acknowledged it did not generate material royalties from mining.
“I encourage Maitland council to put in a strong submission next year, and of course it would have my full support.”
“The process is repeated every year and a strong submission from Maitland council in regards to truck movements throughout the community would really help ensure Maitland gets a greater share of the capital expenditure,” she said.
A Maitland City Council spokesman said the council did not participate in a NSW Trade and Investment working group which oversaw the process of categorising councils.
The spokesman could not confirm if the council had participated in the survey which was a key part of this process.
Council general manager David Evans told the Mercury that Hunter Councils had made representations on behalf of Maitland.
He said all the Hunter councils should have received a portion of the money because of their involvement with mining.
The mayor of Maitland, Cr Peter Blackmore, said the evidence to support Maitland’s case for funding was clear and he was disappointed the city had missed out.
“We only have to ask the authorities to look at our roads in the early morning to see which way they are going, and the traffic jam at Greta, that is coming from Maitland,” he said.
“What’s wrong with us being eligible for the money and receiving it?”
Maitland Business Chamber president Steve Thomson agreed: “We do have an impact on our roads and to say we are not impacted is crazy.
“You only have to be at the hospital or railway station roundabout about 4.30pm to see the procession of white utes coming home from the mines.”
Cessnock MP Clayton Barr accused the government of deliberately formulating a model that excluded Maitland, Cessnock and Lake Macquarie.
“Maitland is a coal hub, a significant proportion of the mining workforce live here, and Maitland has an enormous amount of mining related industries,” he said.