Transcript - Presser Testers Hollow, Cessnock

BOB PYNSENT

Well good morning everyone and welcome to the Cessnock Local Government Area, specifically to the Deputy Prime Minister, Senator Perin, Minister Toole and Michael Johnsen and, importantly, my fellow Mayor, Loretta Baker from Maitland, just across the water. It’s certainly a great occasion. We’ve had a number of instances over time of flooding here, and this work certainly helps the residents and the growing number of residents in both the Cessnock and Maitland LGAs with accessibility. So thank you very much for the funding, both the State and Federal Government, and we look forward to the completion.

LORETTA BAKER

Bob’s acknowledged everyone, but I would like to acknowledge all our dignitaries here this morning. Thank you so much for coming here to the Hunter Valley. Maitland people will be over the moon to see this upgrade go ahead. Testers Hollow has always been a tricky spot for us and people isolated during minimal rain normally, doesn’t even take a big flood. So we’re really happy to see this go ahead and very, very grateful for the funding. Along with Bob, very happy to be here and happy to see it starting, and thank you.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, the finest projects draw the finest crowds. Of course, we’ve got the Mayors of Cessnock and Maitland and I really warmly welcome the Federal Senator for New South Wales, Perin Davey, who spends so much of her time getting out and not only looking at these sorts of projects across the state of New South Wales but delivering. And it’s great to be here, too, with the Minister for Regional Roads and Transport, Paul Toole, and Michael Johnsen, no stranger to most, the Member for Upper Hunter. And this is what the Nationals do in Government – we deliver. We build roads. We build the sort of infrastructure that country communities expect, want, need and most importantly, deserve.

Now this project on Cessnock Road, Testers Hollow, is going to make such a difference for the thousands of commuters who use this road each and every day. Michael Johnsen was telling me back when we had the super storm hit New South Wales in April 2015, the road was shut for more than a week. Well, we can’t have the economies of the Hunter and Maitland and Cessnock held up by more than a week. We can’t have traffic stopped and having to be diverted elsewhere.

And that’s why we’re increasing this road by one and a half metres. It’s a $17 million project, $15 million of which is coming from the Federal Government and a couple of million dollars from the State Government. But it’s State and Federal Governments working in collaboration. State and Federal Coalition Governments working cooperatively to build the sort of infrastructure that country communities need. And this is going to make such a difference for this area.

We’ve talked about it for a long time. We’re getting on with it and we’re delivering it. And work has already started, as you can see, it started last month. Weather permitting, it will be completed in 2022. Importantly, 50 jobs, Daracon, a Hunter company, making sure that they do the project with many local people, local procurement, local small businesses feeding into this project. And Paul Toole and I are working right across regional New South Wales in particular, building roads, building infrastructure and making sure that country communities get the sort of infrastructure that they need. With that, I’ll ask Paul Toole to make some comments.

PAUL TOOLE

Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister. And once again it’s great to be here with the Deputy Prime Minister. And here is an example of another project, another investment across regional New South Wales. And this is about creating jobs. Michael and I have been working very closely about bringing projects forward because we know they’re important to our communities. It’s about reducing congestion, but it’s also about connecting communities, and that’s exactly what today’s announcement is here at Testers Hollow.

I also acknowledge the Mayors of Maitland and Cessnock that are here as well. I thank them for the work that they do on behalf of the community here when it comes to better roads for their communities. To the Senator Perin Davey and also the Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen, this project is a partnership. It’s a partnership between the Federal Government and the State Government. We are seeing $17 million being delivered for this project. We are going to see the road being lifted by another one and a half metres and when you see about 16,000 vehicles that use this section of road every day, you know it’s important.

So when we’ve seen those floods in the past, when we’ve seen the road cut off, it’s actually adding an additional 20 minutes to the trip of locals here in this area. And it shuts communities off. People can’t get to work. People can’t get to childcare. People can’t go and do those normal activities that they would do each and every day.

So this investment’s going to see about 630 metres of the road being lifted. But importantly, it will be able to deal with those flood situations that we will potentially see as in the past. We haven’t had much rainfall here on this section of road where we’ve seen it being cut off in the past. So this project, it will be finished by the end of 2022, but, again, it’s another great investment and another great partnership with the Federal Government on our roads across the state.

PERIN DAVEY

Thank you, I’ll just say a few brief words, because it’s great to be back in this part of the world. Cessnock and Maitland are both growing regional towns and if there’s anything the Nationals really believe in, it’s regional development and it’s seeing our regional communities grow and thrive. And so by dealing with the flood mitigation on this section of road, by making it an easier and more attractive place to live, we’re going to encourage further investment in these communities, which is good for the region, it’s good for New South Wales, it’s good for Australia. So I thank both Mayors for all of their work and their commitment to making Cessnock and Maitland great places. They are growing, fantastically growing and thriving communities and we want to see more of that. And so our Government is committed to funding projects like this road so that we make our regions easier places to live, more attractive places to invest. Thank you.

MICHAEL JOHNSEN

Thank you. Can I welcome the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Toole and also our Mayors of Maitland and Cessnock. And I know our Mayors have been great advocates for this piece of work being done here at Testers Hollow. I’m no stranger to this particular area and I remember very well the last time that it was cut off for around 10 days during the – or just after the big super storm of April 2015. It was a terrible time at that point in time and communities were isolated. And as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister have said, there is no reason why that should ever happen again. The Nationals in Government at State and Federal level are working with our local government colleagues, are making sure that we deliver for our communities and we are making sure that this particular section of road is a critical upgraded part of our regional road network, which, again, connects communities and won’t provide that level of isolation that is unwarranted for what is such a great growing area here in the Maitland Cessnock area. Thank you.

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