Gunnedah Shire Council is calling on the NSW government to ensure “mining-impacted” communities are adequately resourced to meet the demands of a post-mining economy.

Council’s submission follows a review of the Regional Development Act to identify priorities for regional communities, establish how the government will work with these communities to improve outcomes and the approach to identify areas for future investment.

The Regional Development Act started in December 2004 with the aim to provide a framework for financial assistance that attracts investment and boosts jobs in regional NSW.

Almost 20 years on, the government has invested $350 million into the Regional Development Trust which includes a focus on “modernising” the Act.

As part of the consultation process, the NSW government is considering how the Regional Development Act can support more transparent expenditure of public funds by developing investment principles that align with the Australian government’s Regional Investment Framework released in July 2023.

Gunnedah council’s three-part submission to the review calls for recognition of the importance of local government in regional communities and the need to ensure that local governments in regional areas are financially sustainable and have the necessary resources to provide the broad and unique mix of services provided in each local government area.

Council also asked that the new strategy contains a provision to ensure that local government is not left financially worse off following the review through the de-funding of grant programs such as the Stronger Country Communities Fund and Resources for Regions program by the NSW government.

The submission also requested a provision to ensure that mining-impacted councils such as Gunnedah Shire Council have access to funding arrangements similar to the previous Resources for Regions program in order to ensure that councils can continue to invest in these communities in order to strengthen existing alternative industries and diversify the economy, assisting to ensure there will be strong communities in these regions following the end of mining.

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