HE’S won the political war, now Nationals member for New England Barnaby Joyce knows the real hard work begins.
After sweeping through the Upper Hunter, the deputy prime minister says he is “humbled” but aware of the challenge ahead.
“I am very humbled by the vote I got in the Upper Hunter; I take my job incredibly seriously and will be doing everything in my power to respect the support given to me,” he said.
“I can’t promise everything, but what we promise we deliver on.”
The three biggest local issues highlighted during Mr Joyce’s campaign were the Scone Bypass, Merriwa to Willow Tree road upgrade, and the Thoroughbred Association levy.
He said the tender process was still expected to be done on the bypass by the middle of next year, while the commitment of $5.5 million for the much-needed road upgrade meant it had simply become a matter of “getting on with it”.
Under the premise of an elected Coalition Government, a further $30 million was pledged towards the bypass.
Mr Joyce’s other major pre-election promise included a pledge to invest $1.2 million over three years in research and development to boost disease control, biosecurity and reproductive capabilities in the Australian thoroughbred industry.
The industry had requested a research and development levy be established to help underpin the sector’s future profitability.
He said delivering greater mobile phone towers in the region and sealing other various sections of roads were additional tasks.
“There are plans in place for roads and communication but I’m going to be blunt, there’s quite a bit to do because the Labor Party didn’t do much at all,” he said.
“But this is an office that is known for working incredibly hard to deliver back to the community.”
Upper Hunter Shire mayor Wayne Bedggood said Mr Joyce had put forward the shire’s “big ticket” needs and desires during his campaign.
“Minister Joyce has assisted in resolving the impasse we had reached with progress on the Scone Bypass and Rail Overpass,” he said.
“The additional $30m in funding from both State ($10m) and Federal ($20m) governments for what we all knew would be a more expensive project than originally budgeted is appreciated albeit dependant on the Coalition returning.
“Amongst our discussions, the Merriwa - Willow Tree road sealing project was flagged and as we are all aware, the Federal government, through Minister Joyce, announced $5.5 million in funding to be granted to both the Liverpool Plains and Upper Hunter shires.
“This funding, with the expectation of matching State funds will bring the project forward by at least 8 years, saving the respective Councils significant sums in ongoing operational costs.
“Council will continue to discuss our shire's needs with Minister Joyce’s office and, being a fundamentally agricultural based region, it is comforting to know that his interests somewhat match ours.”
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