The scrapping of the position of Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter has cost the region an important voice in Macquarie Street, the Hunter Business Chamber says.
“The Hunter has enjoyed the representation of a dedicated Minister or Parliamentary Secretary for about the past 30 years and the person in that role has been an important advocate for regional issues at ministerial level,” Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said.
“Stakeholder groups such as the Chamber have placed high value on the role and benefited from the assistance these representatives have been able to offer in getting or a foot in a Minister’s door or movement on an important regional issue.
“While we welcome the reappointment of many senior ministers to the NSW Cabinet, and the expansion of portfolios, we are disappointed the Berejiklian Government has discontinued the Hunter role and will be writing to the Premier to ask her to reconsider this decision.”
Mr Hawes said the immediate past Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, had been a strong advocate for the region, was well known and respected locally and had been successful putting regional issues on the government agenda.
“What we lose is someone who sits across all agencies and can get a sense of the priorities across portfolios,” Mr Hawes said.
“This is particularly important in a region where we do not have a high level of government representation among local MPs.
“Single-portfolio Parliamentary Secretaries and Ministers will always prosecute their portfolio objectives above the interests of a region.
“Industry and community organisations will face a greater challenge without a dedicated Hunter representative to represent the priorities we believe need to be advanced for our region to continue thriving and contributing to the growth of the state of NSW.”