NSW Nationals Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen says a new initiative will enable local tradies to get school maintenance jobs in the region.

Mr Johnsen said local tradies would be given preference with a new online system allowing businesses to engage directly with the NSW Government on projects in the region.

“The online procurement process will ensure businesses in our local Upper Hunter electorate communities are better supported throughout the drought,” Mr Johnsen said.

“This new approach to tendering for local school maintenance projects will provide approximately 25,000 opportunities to quote for work across the State, with an estimated total value of $50 million.”

“We know it’s not just our farmers doing it tough at the moment; the knock-on impact of the drought is felt throughout the whole community. As a Government, it is crucial we continue to prioritise the employment of local businesses where we can.”

This initiative is part of the Nationals in Government’s continued commitment to stimulating local economies during this unprecedented drought. The 2019-20 NSW Budget provides more than $620 million to clear the school maintenance backlog in all public schools by July 2020, bringing the total maintenance investment to more than $1.3 billion over five years.

It will be the first time in the State’s history that the school maintenance backlog will be wiped to zero.

“The Nationals in Government are making good on our promise to clear the school maintenance backlog, with almost half the work already completed,” Mr Johnsen said.

“Through this new e-Tendering system, local tradies in our communities will be given more opportunities for the uptake of local jobs, and schools will be able to work alongside trusted community-based businesses.”

The new platform will be fully operational early next year.