June 06, 2024

It's with pleasure that I provide an update to the House on some exciting progress on one of the biggest commitments I took to the 2022 election: the $10 million for the establishment of a mines grouting fund for Lake Macquarie. It's no secret that Lake Macquarie suburbs like Charlestown and Cardiff are home to some very old historical underground mines. For new development to safely occur at these sites, the mine voids need to be filled and remediated with cement grout. This can be very expensive, and developers often aren't sure how much grouting is needed, which makes it very hard for them to borrow money from the banks and invest in the region.

That's where the Lake Macquarie Mines Grouting Fund will come in. It seeks to underwrite developers for the unpredictable cost of grouting above the capped rate, providing them with greater cost certainty, which gives their banks certainty as well. This will give businesses confidence to invest in new developments in our community and also help to address the housing crisis.

Last month I was proud to announce that stage 1 of establishing the Lake Macquarie Mines Grouting Fund was underway. Thanks to $2 million in funding from the Albanese Labor government, Lake Macquarie City Council is currently conducting scoping studies to fully determine the extent of the mine remediation needed, including a base remediation cost. That's anticipated to be completed by February next year. Then stage 2, the actual establishment of the mines grouting fund, will commence. This fund is expected to open for applications from the middle of 2025. This will have massive benefits for our region. Prior to the last election, Lake Macquarie's economic development corporation, Dantia, conducted analysis which showed that a grouting fund for Lake Macquarie would unlock 2½ thousand new jobs and accelerate $450 million of investment in eligible development applications in Charlestown alone.

I know the Lake Macquarie Mines Grouting Fund will be successful because of what's happened in places like Newcastle. Newcastle had its own grouting fund. Around $2 million of funding was drawn upon for that program, and it stimulated over $3 billion of investment in the city. Let me repeat that: around $2 million from the Newcastle Mines Grouting Fund unlocked over $3 billion of investment in Newcastle. This fund will level the playing field for Lake Macquarie by giving the private sector confidence to invest in our region, which will help unlock our community's economic potential and help create jobs and housing. The Lake Macquarie Mines Grouting Fund will be good for developers, good for local jobs and good for addressing the current housing crisis.

Another election commitment I took to the last election—and it's fortuitous that the Minister for Communications is sitting next to me—was to help solve the mobile phone black spot issues in our community. Telstra has been awarded a contract to build towers on Lake Munmorah, Eleebana, Budgewoi, Halekulani and Jewells. I thank the minister for her cooperation on an important program for my community.