Nationals MPs hit the road to talk bypasses in Muswellbrook and Singleton and host a forum at Scone

Nationals MPs Michael Johnsen and Barnaby Joyce at a Scone community forum on Tuesday night.
Nationals MPs Michael Johnsen and Barnaby Joyce at a Scone community forum on Tuesday night.

HITTING the road in the Hunter this week, federal Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce stopped at Scone on Tuesday where he, alongside state counterpart Michael Johnsen, faced questions from the community at a local forum.

Issues raised included the revitalisation of Kelly Street, attracting tourists, the need for affordable housing, local manufacturing and renewable energy.

Earlier that day, the Member for New England and Member for Upper Hunter were in Singleton where they were spruiking the Singleton Bypass alongside Nationals colleagues Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Senator Perin Davey and NSW Minister for Regional Roads and Transport Paul Toole.

They announced the long-awaited bypass, which includes constructing a new section of highway across the floodplain west of Singleton, from near Newington Lane to north of McDougalls Hill, was locked in for 2023.

Last month, the Australian government committed $560 million towards the construction of the bypass with the NSW government to provide the remainder of the funding.

Continuing the theme, Mr Johnsen and Mr Toole took to the streets of Muswellbrook on Monday, to unveil the proposed route for the Muswellbrook Bypass, a $266 million project that the NSW government has committed to footing the entire bill for, and one also heavily backed by Barnaby Joyce.

On Tuesday night, Joyce continued to tout how important it was to free up movement of traffic along the New England Highway, stating delivering those projects down the Valley will be of big benefit to Scone.

"One of the best things we can do for Scone is make sure we get a freer movement of traffic up and down the New England Highway because that's overwhelming where your tourists and the people who will turn off are going to come from," he said.

"For the thoroughbred industry, it means a greater capacity to move horses back and forth and it becomes a more viable place to work with the Sydney racing industry."

Of course the community was eager to ask questions regarding whether the federal government would be chipping in for the revitalisation of Kelly Street, with the state government having already put in $11 million.

However Mr Joyce admitted the federal government is unlikely to match that, and any funding announced will be stalled in smaller amounts.

Mr Johnsen said a lot was going on behind the scenes to make sure Kelly Street gets redone.

"If you look at the surface of Kelly Street, it's past its due date, it needs to be ripped up and new drainage needs to be done," he said.

"A lot of the $11 million, if not all of it, is going to be taken up in the resurfacing and the utility works that go with that.

"There is going to be some level of disruption when that happens, so before you get to the point that you start digging it up and redoing it, you want to get all your plans right, and I know Council is working very hard along with Transport for NSW to ensure the plans are going to be right before they start that disruption.

"It will be good in the long run, but it will create a little bit of short term disruption."

Barnaby Joyce continued his stay in the Hunter Valley on Wednesday, where he answered more questions at a Hunter Business Chamber lunch at Newcastle City Hall alongside fellow Nationals Senator Matt Canavan and Lyne MP David Gillespie where the big topic was the coal industry and Australia's energy future.

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