The establishment of a Hunter Joint Organisation is looking to strengthen collaboration between local councils and the NSW government on regional initiatives.
The joint organisation has been formally proclaimed with 10 member councils: Mid Coast, Cessnock, Dungog, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Muswellbrook, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Singleton, and Upper Hunter.
The NSW government has also provided $300,000 in seed funding to help establish the new regional body in the Hunter.
Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead said the government introduced an Australian first for regional communities when Parliament passed legislation late last year to establish a network of joint organisations across regional NSW.
“I commend our local councils for recognising the many benefits the new regional body will offer our local communities and deciding to join the Hunter Joint Organisation,” Mr Bromhead said.
“By coming together and joining forces, these local councils put themselves in a stronger position to deliver bigger picture projects.”
Mr Bromhead said the Hunter Joint Organisation will comprise member councils, state government agencies and other key stakeholders to plan and prioritise important regional projects across traditional council boundaries.
“The new regional body will look at the issues that matter most to our local communities such as building strong economies, creating jobs, and improving regional infrastructure, services and facilities,” he said.
The Hunter Joint Organisation will now undertake a number of tasks to prepare to become operational by July 1, including electing a chairperson, employing an executive officer, adopting a code of conduct, and developing a charter.
MidCoast Council mayor, David West said the 10 local government areas that make up the Hunter region are extraordinarily diverse but there is a key theme in all that they do.
“We strive to remove barriers to collaboration and work together for the future of our region,” he said.
“The new joint organisation structure will assist us to achieve even more and we are excited by the opportunities before us.”
Deputy premier and minister for regional NSW, John Barilaro said the Hunter Joint Organisation is one of 11 joint organisations comprising more than 70 councils in regional NSW.
“It’s extremely pleasing that more than 90 per cent of eligible councils in NSW have formally resolved to form a joint organisation,” Mr Barilaro said.
“The formal proclamation of 11 joint organisations is a landmark day for regional NSW including the Hunter and will change the way local councils and the state government work together to deliver important projects.”
Local Government Minister, Gabrielle Upton said the government had allocated a total of $3.3 million in seed funding for the joint organisation network in regional NSW.
“A number of regions across NSW had a 100 per cent take up by councils with full joint organisation membership in the Illawarra, Hunter, and Canberra Region. These councils are showing strong civic leadership by signalling their intention to work together and with the NSW government on regional initiatives,” Ms Upton said.
The office of local government is continuing to work with a small number of councils to finalise joint organisation membership.
It is also providing a comprehensive range of support and guidance materials to assist joint organisations to become operational from July.