Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen shares about time in NSW government

LOVING HIS ROLE: Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen.
LOVING HIS ROLE: Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen.

OVER the past couple of years, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen has met a lot of people and made a variety of announcements.

But, halfway through his term as local member, it isn’t the big moments that have been a highlight for him.

While he didn’t point to one particular achievement since arriving in parliament, he said his greatest job satisfaction came from helping people.

“We have housing issues in the electorate,” he said.

“That’s probably the number one inquiry that we get from constituents walking into the office.

“When you speak to someone and they sit there and cry in front of you because they can’t put food on the table and they’ve got nowhere to live that night, then you can make a couple of calls and get things fixed for that person.

“That’s probably the greatest achievement.”

Mr Johnsen said his future goals included continuing to deliver on election commitments.

“We had around $490 million worth of commitments,” he said.

“In addition to that, there are some pretty major goals that I’d like to achieve.

“For example, I think we need to build another coal-fired power station in the Upper Hunter.

“We have the capacity, the expertise, and the ability to not just talk about energy generation and how it might impact on people’s lives, but to be energy central in NSW.

“In reality we will always need, and will continue to grow, a mix of energy sources – whether it be wind, solar, gas, coal, hydro – all of these play a role.

“But, one of the things we need to do, I think, given that Liddell and Bayswater are closing down, is to build a new coal fired power station using the clean coal technology

“Something like a 30 per cent reduction in emissions from an old style coal-fired power station is nothing but good news.

“But, more importantly, it secures jobs, it secures energy supply to the state of NSW.”

The politician said plans were progressing for the Muswellbrook bypass.

He said the Muswellbrook bypass basic route had been agreed upon, with the state government committing to an 80-20 funding split with the federal government.

The project is currently at the business case phase, and being modified to satisfy the requirements of that stage.

“We know we need it, but [must] get it to work with the traffic volumes, and projected traffic volumes into the future,” he said.

“I think heavy vehicles shouldn’t be going through town.

“If a heavy vehicle has to be coming through town to deliver goods, that’s one thing.

“But if you’ve got through traffic, the drivers don’t want to go through town, and people don’t want to be standing on Bridge Street and have semi trailers and heavy equipment and wide loads coming through town.”

Mr Johnsen said the Upper Hunter had great tourism opportunities and his long-term goal was to see that built upon.