2019-2020 NSW Budget winners and losers - where does the Upper Hunter sit?

PROMISES APLENTY: The 2019-2020 NSW Budget has more than $90 million for the Upper Hunter, according to MP Michael Johnsen.
PROMISES APLENTY: The 2019-2020 NSW Budget has more than $90 million for the Upper Hunter, according to MP Michael Johnsen.

THE 2019-2020 NSW Budget was handed down on Tuesday - and the Upper Hunter electorate has received funding boosts across a number of areas.

Big ticket items such as the Muswellbrook, Scone and Singleton bypasses have all taken a share, while the region will also enjoy becoming part of several state-wide projects.

Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen confirmed the area would accept extra resources for communications, education, infrastructure and health.

The latter of those issues is likely to be the most contentious, with more front line health staff being provided to the area, but no new money to work on part three of the Muswellbrook District Hospital upgrade.

Mr Johnsen said more planning was required before any funds could be pledged to the third stage, and that will now have to wait until at least next year.

"There's nothing specifically in the budget about that but they're only just finishing stage two," he explained.

"And, already as part of stage two we've built certain things to continue on with stage three when the final plans are given to the minister and ready for funding."

He was, however, keen to speak about the additions to health facilities in the region, with approximately 1600 new staff set to take residence in the area.

"We said before the election that we were going to put on 8000 new health staff, and the Hunter-New England Health District has by far the biggest percentage of that," he said.

Another hotly-debated issue is the Muswellbrook Bypass, which the state coalition has set aside $266 million for.

Out of that, just $4 million was allocated for the coming year, although Mr Johnsen said it was simply because it's just in the planning stage.

While it may seem minuscule in relation to the project's overall cost, it is almost double what has been committed previously throughout a number of years.

One project that continues to tick along at tortoise pace is the Singleton Bypass, which gained another $2.7 million for planning as part of a pledge that was made prior to the 2015 election.

Incredibly, there is still no timeline for construction as more detail is reportedly required.

Continuing with the theme, the near-completed Scone Bypass has been granted $28.7 million as its 2020 deadline approaches.

There's good news for anyone reading this with spotty internet connection, as the Upper Hunter MP confirmed his electorate would feature heavily in the government's $400 million plan to decrease the amount of mobile blackspots.

Figures regarding that remain murky though, as the NSW Budget 2019-2020 paper mentions the aforementioned costing, while Budget Statement and Budget Estimates documents state the Regional Digital Connectivity Program will cost $518.8 million, with $97.2 million of that being spend this year.

On a more local level, $550,000 will be used to help purchase land and get development underway on a new Fire and Rescue NSW station at Muswellbrook.

Muswellbrook South Public School will also reap the benefits from the state-wide promise to get rid of demountables and add air-conditioning to all classrooms, although an exact number on the cost of that is yet to be released.

With an almost never-ending stream of promises prior to the state election, it was always going to be difficult to follow though.

However, a start is being made on almost every pledge with the only obvious loser being the Muswellbrook hospital stage three development.

Verdict: Public reaction will determine the budget's legacy in the coming days but, for now, it seems as if the government has pulled several rabbits out of the hat and given adequate focus to regional issues.

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