Kurri Kurri its History & its Future

The township of Kurri Kurri and the surrounding district was first established when coal was discovered at East Greta Junction now known as Gillieston Heights. In those early days at the end of the 19th Century the coal mine employees lived in very primitive conditions in villages surrounding the future township of Kurri Kurri.

In 1902 after considerable lobbying by the coal miners a permanent settlement was established. The first lands in Kurri Kurri were sold in 1903.

From its early establishment as a town the people of the community always struggled for an identity and to have control of their own destiny. In 1906 the town was handed over to the Tarro Shire and later became part of the Kearsley Shire, (The only Communist Council in the country) which later became Greater Cessnock City. During this period of destabilisation, the community suffered from discrimination and deprivation from all levels of government.

It was in this climate that Kurri Kurri business people established their Chamber in 1913, less than ten years after the establishment of the town out of a need to establish such basic needs as banking and phone services for the growing business district. The early business people were also concerned at the lack of support for the district at Local, State and Federal government level.

For many years the township suffered from a period of political agitation and posturing that saw the community used to promote the aspirations of the local politicians. Business Development lobbying has remained a key focus for the business people of the area since the town’s establishment.

Coal was the economic driver until the late 1960’s when mine closures such as those that were located in the area created high unemployment. When the ALCAN smelter arrived in 1969 it provided employment opportunities for some of the displaced workforce. During the late 70’s and early 90’s the textile industry also provided an income for the girls/women of the district, but this was short lived as the industry quickly moved offshore chasing cheaper labour.

In more recent times the business people had to lobby hard for the establishment of Weston Aluminium and Signode Strapping operations. Both of these businesses have brought moderate relief to our employment woes.

When the smelter shut down in 2012 it set back the community at least ten years. Now with the imminent announcement of the redevelopment of the smelter site and adjacent buffer zone into residential lands things will change for the better.

With this project we will see the commencement of serious economic development for the Kurri Kurri district as the town reinvents itself; and we will witness a future prosperity not seen since the establishment of the coalmines more than 100 years ago.

Council adopts LED street lighting technology

Cessnock Liberals support the introduction of LED street light technology.

Cessnock City Council adopted LED street lighting across the LGA as from the 17 of October council meeting and will progressively replace 2,013 street lights.
As far back as 2011 discussions were taking place on how to lower the council street lighting power costs. LED technology was in its infancy back then but the people who were part of the Kurri Kurri 2030 futures development committee recognized the need and placed it as one of their Top 10 priorities to have low energy lighting installed by the year 2030.
Over the ensuring years various organizations showed off their technology in Kurri Kurri and to council staff including the City Mayor.
Smaller communities across Australia and New Zealand began adopting the technology with instant savings on power and maintenance.
The small council district of Kaipara in NZ replaced 1400 street lights with LEDs resulting in a 70% saving on power and significant savings on maintenance
In WA, the Lighting the West project is a partnership between Wyndham City, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay to bring sustainable street lighting to the west.
In 2015 as part of the project, over 26,000 80W mercury vapour street lights have been changed to energy efficient technology across the municipalities. Across the four Councils, this will result in 176,117 tonnes reduction in equivalent carbon dioxide emissions over 20 years and a $1.4 million saving in 2015 alone.
The biggest LED street light replacement project is in NSW, Light Years Ahead, has come to an end with the last light installed in March 2016
Crews installed 13,951 LED street lights across Western Sydney – 951 extra lights than originally forecasted. Final reporting is underway and Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), who is coordinating the project, is investigating options for additional lights.
Nine Western Sydney councils have been working on this collaborative street lighting project since 2014. Councils involved in the project are Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Hills Shire, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith. The project is estimated to save the participating councils $20 million and 74,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over 20 years. The $20 million savings are significant as street lighting makes up around 55% of councils’ energy costs.

In Cessnock, Ausgrid owns and maintains 5,049 street lights within the Cessnock LGA for which Council pays maintenance and electricity costs. These lights include 2,013 pre 2009 lights on residential streets that can be cost effectively replaced by newer, more efficient and more reliable LED’s. The proposed street lighting replacement project has a positive payback with the overall project paying for itself in approximately 7 years. There are also positive environmental and community benefits from the project.

NSW energy crisis affects business

Large businesses such as Tomago Aluminium in the Hunter Valley are the backbone of New South Wales’ economy providing more than 900 jobs and hundreds more in contract services.

But the ridiculous rising energy costs are hurting their business. Electricity is a major cost for Tomago Aluminium and they have been working hard to be more energy efficient and reduce their consumption.

In February this year the country experienced an electricity price hike to $13,000 Kwh during the hot weather. Aluminium Smelters are very large consumers of electricity and experiencing a price hike of this magnitude could see the smelter close. If NSW were to have the same issue that South Australia experienced the Smelter would possible shut down and never restart, thus depriving the Hunter and NSW of a major export earning business ($1.5billion) and thousands of job losses to the Hunter economy.

These huge power increases put their businesses and the jobs of those they employ at risk. They prevent Tomago Aluminium from expanding and employing more people.

NSW is an energy powerhouse with our natural resources in the Hunter Valley. With our coal reserves, we should have some of the lowest energy production costs in the world. But our coal is exported overseas to provide cheap and reliable energy for coal fired power stations to provide cheap power to businesses in other countries, while we are hit with rising power prices. Australia is now the laughing stock of modern economies with the highest power costs.

The Federal and State Governments need to put a stop to the Cartel behavior and price gouging by the Generators and to put a sensible policy cap on peak load charges instead of the ludicrous $13,000. It is incumbent on the ACCC to investigate the behavior of the Generators.

Experts have repeatedly warned that our zero emissions target threatens to make New South Wales the new South Australia, with blackouts, job losses and businesses leaving.

NSW needs to end its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and concentrate on cost savings Vs emissions before we send the business community broke.

New South Wales needs a sensible energy mix that keeps ours lights on, our business costs down and protects our environment. Without it, businesses like Tomago Aluminium can’t grow and support a strong New South Wales economy.

Australias car industry demise started with the Button Labor plan

Button Labor car plan

Original vehicle

Badge engineered derivative

Ford Falcon (utility) Nissan Ute
Holden Commodore Toyota Lexcen
Nissan Patrol Ford Maverick
Nissan Pintara Ford Corsair
Nissan Pulsar Holden Astra
Toyota Camry Holden Apollo
Toyota Corolla Holden Nova

The Button car plan, also known as the Button plan was the informal name given to the Motor Industry Development Plan. The plan was an Australian federal government initiative, intended to rationalise the Australian motor vehicle industry and transition it to lower levels of protection. Industry consultation had begun in mid 1983 with the scheme announced, after John Button visited Japan to inform the car companies there of the contents of the plan, in mid 1984 with a proposed start date of 1985. The plan took its name from Senator John Button, the federal Minister for Commerce, Trade and Industry.

At the time of its inception, Australia’s motor industry was heavily protected by import tariffs, and quantitative restrictions on imports or quotas which protected the assembly of thirteen models by various manufacturers. The Button car plan aimed to reduce this number to six models, with the aim of forcing industry consolidation. The overarching aim of the scheme was to make the motor vehicle industry in Australia more efficient by consolidation of resources, allowing the import tariffs to be gradually reduced. This in turn would theoretically expose the local industry to increased competition from imported products, fostering improvement in local vehicles and creating the basis for a competitive export industry.

The most obvious effect of the plan for the Australian car buyer was the appearance of badge engineered vehicles, where the same basic vehicle was sold by several companies under different names. Other approaches included the Ford Courier and Mazda B-Series utilities utilising Mitsubishi‘s 2.6-litre Astron four-cylinder engine, and a proposal to replace Mitsubishi’s locally built Colt with a rebadged Toyota Corolla. This proposal however, never eventuated.

Holden initially teamed up with Nissan in 1984, where the Nissan Pulsar was sold as the Holden Astra. Later Pulsar and Astra models in Australia used Holden-sourced powertrains. This arrangement dissolved in 1989, and General Motors–Holden’s and Toyota formed United Australian Automobile Industries (UAAI). The vehicles produced as a result of this joint venture, the Holden Apollo (Toyota Camry), Holden Nova (Toyota Corolla) and Toyota Lexcen (Holden Commodore) lasted until 1996 for the Holden-badged derivatives models, and 1997 for Lexcen.[1]

This sharing of models proved unpopular with buyers, and original models outsold their badge engineered counterparts.[2] The last of such models, the Toyota Lexcen (Holden Commodore), was dropped in 1997. Rather than share locally assembled models with other manufacturers, Holden, Ford, and Toyota decided to import fully built-up models from subsidiaries elsewhere in the world, mainly Europe and Japan. Mitsubishi Motors did not share models with other manufacturers during the period of the plan and ended Australian manufacturing in 2008; Nissan ended car manufacturing in Australia completely in 1994.


Bluescope Steel Bail out

This would have been good for the Kurri Kurri Smelter back in 2010 when the NSW Government under Labor pulled the power contract off the table, leaving Hunter workers high and dry.


 The NSW Government will provide payroll tax relief to BlueScope Steel to help secure its Port Kembla operations – supporting the local steel industry and its workers, NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian has announced.

Ms Berejiklian said the targeted assistance package provides a structured deferral of payroll tax of up to $60 million over three years to BlueScope through a defined payment schedule.

“These measures will help BlueScope maintain its Port Kembla operations amid tough global business conditions,” Ms Berejiklian said. “We have always said the NSW Government is committed to playing a strong role in securing the future of the Illawarra and this package does just that.

“The situation faced by BlueScope in the Illawarra is unique, and that’s why the Government has chosen to provide this deferral to support the continued operation of the steelworks.

“We have seen management, the workers and the unions all doing their bit in working to maintain the steelworks at Port Kembla and this payroll tax deferral is the Government doing what it can to assist.”

After the payroll tax deferral period, BlueScope will make payments totalling the full deferment amount to the State in increments over ten years from 2020 to 2029 on top of the normal payroll tax payments.

Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, said the NSW Government will work with the Commonwealth and other stakeholders to support the workers affected by BlueScope’s restructure, while continuing to drive jobs growth across the region.

“The Illawarra has undergone extensive change when it comes to its traditional drivers of employment, but it continues to have tremendous potential,” Mr Roberts said. “The region recorded jobs growth of 12,400 in the 12 months to September 2015, one of the best performing regions in NSW.

“The Illawarra is transitioning towards new growth employment sectors such as Information and Communications Technology (ICT), health, advanced manufacturing, education and like all regions, will be eligible for Jobs for NSW funding.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward, who has been a strong advocate for the local community on this issue, welcomed the news.

“My mum and dad first met at the steelworks in 1973 – like so many Illawarra families, this issue runs deep for us,” Mr Ward said.

“This has been a challenging time for our community, but we are always strongest when we are focused and united. I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in today’s announcement.”

We need a new Hunter region Hospital


 We need a new Hunter region hospital to take the workload off John Hunter not a new Maitland hospital which would only serve one community. The new hospital should be built in the Hunter Expressway corridor where it could service the community of West Maitland, Cessnock LGA and Singleton LGA. The message coming through that the new Metford Hospital would replace the aging Maitland hospital is scandalous. Below is a letter written to the Premier and Health Minsiter back in May 2014. 

A petition has been produced by people in Branxton concerned that the new hospital will be built on the eastern side of Maitland thus depriving people west of Maitland and beyond medical services. Branxton is famous for its Lions Club sign (Two Cemeteries no hospital) at the entrance to the town

Premier of NSW
The Honorable Michael Baird MP
NSW Parliament
6 Macquarie Street

Premier Hon Mike Baird:  Health Minister Hon Jillian Skinner

Our Business Chamber would like to bring to your attention the recent Government decision to locate the new Hunter Hospital at Metford in the Maitland Electorate.

It is our firm belief that this was a very poor decision and not based on sound geographic and population growth information.

Many of the Lower Hunter and Upper Hunter hospitals are greater than 100 years old and cannot cope with the 21st Century population growth which is moving North West to places such as Cessnock, Kurri Kurri, Lochinvar, Branxton and Singleton Shire.

With the completion of the Hunter Expressway and the recent announcement of the Hydro Aluminium Smelter closure freeing up some 2,000 hectares of developable land, we believe the decision needs to be revisited.

During the Hunter Hospital Submission period for the new hospital Hydro Aluminium, Kurri Kurri put in submission for consideration.

We believe this site adjacent to the Hunter Expressway is a “no-brainer” as it can service Maitland, Kurri Kurri, Cessnock, Branxton, Singleton and further west.  The Smelter land adjacent to the expressway is virgin land with no contamination is flood free and is well serviced by all infrastructures.

Community members from our community would like the opportunity to meet with yourself and Minister for Health Jillian Skinner to further discuss our concerns and this proposal.

This is an opportunity to get it right the first time around.

Hunter Valley Way launched

Welcome to Hunter Valley Way

The newest tourist drive on the eastern seaboard will be launched on Thursday 18th of December in Kurri Kurri at a function at the Hunter Region BEC, Barton Street, Kurri Kurri to celebrate this projects achievement.

Sponsors and partners invite the public to view the tourist drive “Hunter Valley Way” either on Facebook or visit www.huntervalleyway.com.au

Starting at the M1 at Freeman’s Water Hole in Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley Way covers the small towns and villages throughout the Hunter finishing in Merriwa on the Golden Highway.

 The drive is web based and is accessible on the new Smart Phones, iPads and social media platforms.

The project has been developed over a number of years since the announcement of the Hunter Expressway construction in 2010. A small committee of like minded people from the Hunter came together to build the tourist drive and identify the many and diverse attractions this part of the region had to offer visitors and travellers.

The drive also caters for the caravan and mobile home travellers with commercial parks, RV dump stations and camp sites along the route.

The Hunter Valley Way incorporates six member town and area precincts in three shires of the Hunter Valley all within easy reach of each other beginning at Freemans Waterhole just off the M1, then passing through Kurri Kurri/Weston, Lovedale, Branxton/Greta, Hermitage Road precinct of Pokolbin, Broke Fordwich/Bulga, Jerrys Plains, Denman and Merriwa on the Golden Highway.

Members of the Hunter Valley Way project include Hunter Business Chamber, Cessnock City Council, Singleton Council, Kurri Kurri District Business Chamber, Kurri Kurri Towns with Heart committee, Branxton-Greta Business Chamber, Around Heritage committee, Broke Fordwich Tourism and Denman Chamber of Commerce.

Access to Hunter Expressway for Maitland & Cessnock people

Our business community wrote to the government after the announcement of construction of the Hunter Expressway, expressing concerns regarding a 365 day flood free access on route 195 (A major thoroughfare) between Kurri Kurri and Maitland.  A couple of years ago there were three flood events whereby route 195 was closed to traffic thus cutting off both communities of Maitland and Kurri Kurri for up to a week.

Since the completion of the Hunter Expressway, route 195 has already witnessed increased traffic (as expected) including the other Maitland access road via Buchanan Road between the Hunter Expressway and East Maitland.

We believe that both Cessnock City Council and Maitland City Council have raised concerns about the quality of Buchanan Road as a major access route to East Maitland and the flood free nature of Testers Hollow at Cliftleigh on route 195.

It is our desire to support both councils in having Buchanan Road re classified as a State Road and safety treatment being undertaken to ensure a safe access use of this road.

We also support Cessnock City Council and Maitland City Council in having route 195 at Testers Hollow being made flood free in the interests of safety and access via the Hunter Expressway

Cessnock gians due recognition as a mining community

At long last the people of the Cessnock LGA have been given due recognition for their contribution to mining in the Hunter region. The NSW Government has announced that Cessnock is now in a mine affected community.

After the Newcastle coal seams were worked out it was the East Greta seam that attracted the most attention with mines opening up all around the Cessnock LGA. At one time Kurri Kurri had 13 mines in its direct vicinity along with Greta, Branxton and the Cessnock coal fields. Today there are two operational mines left in the area but many of the coalfields workforce still work in the mines around Lake Macquarie and the Upper Hunter.

The great coal mines of the Cessnock LGA shut down during the 1960’s which saw unemployment sore in the Coalfields towns of Cessnock and Kurri Kurri with close to 40% unemployment.

It is hoped that the recognition of Cessnock as a mine affected area announced on Tuesday 27 May by the Coalition Government of NSW translates into real financial benefits to the Cessnock LGA.

New Hunter town

Better planned town for the Hunter

The recent Huntlee information day was a real eye opener with some 700 plus people showing an interest in the new town.

The Huntlee new town planned by LWP from Western Australia is exactly what the Hunter region and NSW requires. There is a severe housing shortage and this will intensify as our local population increases.  According to the most recent Lower Hunter Regional Strategy we’ll need 115,000 houses by 2031 and this strategy didn’t include the impact of the Hunter Expressway on the Cessnock Shire.  Huntlee will help ease this pressure and also relieve the population overflow from Sydney.

Coal miners will be able to live closer to work, reducing their commute so they can spend more time with their family and friends and in the community where they work. Huntlee represents an opportunity for our towns to grow and prosper. It provides a future for our children through jobs, new health services and new schools so our kids can go local instead of having to travel hours a day to other towns.   

Huntlee will enable many locals to finally experience new utilities including sewer infrastructure and roads, including improvement to the Wine Country Drive black spot near North Rothbury.

Huntlee will be at the end of the Hunter Expressway and on the north western rail route, giving the residents of this town direct access to Newcastle, Sydney and the employment lands east and west of the new town.