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Infrastructure investment essential to unlocking potential of region

Release Date: 13/08/2019
The Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed Infrastructure Australia’s call for more investment in in satellite cities including Newcastle to ensure that key regions such as the Hunter have capacity to support national growth.
The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit, released today, says a new wave of investment and reform is needed to ensure Australia’s quality of life and economic productivity over the next 15 years. It highlights the potential of smaller cities and satellite regions to alleviate the pressure on congested capital cities.
“The Audit emphasises the need to not just deliver on current infrastructure commitments but to continue exploring new opportunities to improve connections and better serve growing cities and less well-connected regional areas,” Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said.
“While the Audit recognises infrastructure in our four largest cities is failing to keep pace with population growth, it notes there is substantial capacity in satellite cities like Newcastle to grow by using legacy infrastructure and targeted upgrades.
“It suggests governments can get value for money by investing in regional areas, where there is opportunity to support growth at a scale of additional investment significantly less than in the capital cities.”
Mr Hawes said the Audit noted that well-targeted infrastructure investment was critical to supporting international competitiveness.
“This reinforces the importance of investing in our airport, port and national highway links, which have been the focus of strong advocacy from the Chamber and other regional stakeholders,” he said.
“The Audit also highlights the significance of social infrastructure to the welfare of the community and national productivity, which underscores the broad benefits of investment in projects such as the John Hunter Hospital redevelopment.
“It is clear that considered investment in infrastructure enhances the way communities develop. As a region, we need to ensure that politicians and decision makers understand our regional priorities and take a long-term view that looks beyond short-term budgetary and funding cycles.
“The timely and effective delivery of new infrastructure is one of the best ways to boost productivity and economic activity.”
The Chamber will review the challenges and opportunities identified in the Audit and provide feedback through the submission process to ensure Hunter regional priorities are highlighted.
Mr Hawes said the Chamber was looking forward to hearing more insights on infrastructure investment from Infrastructure Australia CEO Romilly Madew when she fronts a Hunter Business Chamber lunch event at Merewether Surfhouse on Friday 30 August.

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