Hunter development heavyweight Hilton Grugeon has called Maitland and Australia’s rate of population growth “terrifying”.
In a lengthy address at the Maitland business chamber’s Wednesday meeting, the larger-than-life developer weighed in on a number of local and state issues, including the city’s hospital saga and contamination at Williamtown.
Of Maitland’s continued growth, Mr Grugeon said roughly 50 people a week were moving to the region – with the pressure on for education, employment opportunities and services to keep up.
“Our current rate of growth, both in our area and our country, is bordering on terrifying,” he said.
“It’s not sustainable, but you’ve got to run with it and know where the exit door is when there’s a downturn.”
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Mr Grugeon also said the area was not a “high priority” for government funding because of its status as a safe Labor seat.
“This area is not a high priority. The message is don’t ever be a safe seat. Neither party in government needs to give us anything,” he said when answering a question about the development of Maitland’s new hospital.
“Whether (the hospital) has a private component or not I don’t really care, as long as we get it.”
When asked if he’d ever consider purchasing land around the Williamtown contamination zone, Mr Grugeon said he’d “never willingly go near it”.
“I wouldn’t. With contamination of that nature, there’s never an outcome.”
The outspoken businessman had no shortage of one liners regarding a number of local issues.
He called the Maitland overpass near the railway station “half a solution by a government halfway through its term”.
When asked what brought him to Maitland from his native Newcastle in 1985, Mr Grugeon simply replied ‘Land’.
His best swipes were saved for local and state governments, and he needed little encouragement to voice his opinion on them.
“Dealing with local government departments has a lot in common with preschool kindergarten children,” he quipped, before stating that “a government with balls would move parliament out of Sydney”.
“The government should be driving everything out of Sydney, starting with themselves,” he said, advocating decentralisation from the country’s capital city.