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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP


Community leaders and local representatives have been appointed as members on the Hunter Regional Expert Panel, one of four panels established to provide input into the NSW Government’s Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the panel members were appointed after a competitive, merit-based recruitment process.

The Hunter Regional Expert Panel members are:

  • Mr Bob Hawes, Chairperson

  • Professor Roberta Ryan, panel member

  • Mr Joe James, panel member

  • Ms Elizabeth Watts, panel member

  • Mr James Barben, panel member

  • Mr Warrick Jordan, panel member

  • Mr John Turner, panel member

  • Mr Brendan Moyle, panel member

  • Ms Fiona Plesman, panel member

  • Mr Robin Williams, panel member

“The panel, comprising of members with a diverse range of skills, expertise, backgrounds and experiences, will provide me with advice and recommendations on applications received through the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund to ensure that decision-making is aligned with the needs of the local area,” Mr Toole said.

“These panel members, who will serve over a three-year term, will have a say in how the Fund is invested towards projects and initiatives like strategic planning and workforce development programs, the development of enabling infrastructure and the establishment of new industries and job opportunities.

“Importantly, we have established the Fund and appointed the Expert Panel members at a time when export thermal coal prices are at record highs, with several mining companies planning to expand and extend the life of their mining operations across the Hunter.”

Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell said 28 positions have been appointed across the four prescribed coal mining regions of the Hunter, Illawarra, North West and Central West.

“The expert panel blends a mix of local understanding and expert industry knowledge which will be critical to developing the future direction of industry in the Hunter region,” Mr Layzell said.
“The panel has a very important task ahead, so I look forward to working with them closely.”

Hunter Regional Expert Panel chair Bob Hawes thanked the Minister for his confidence, saying the panel can hit the ground running as a consequence of the work done through the interim panel since early 2022.

“We have continuity as a consequence of a number of the members from the interim panel being re-appointed. The composition of the panel means significant locally based intelligence and input will inform the recommendations that will be considered by government,” Mr Hawes said.

“I’m excited at the prospect of working with a diverse group in the interests of the future of the region and building it’s resilience.”

The NSW Government has committed at least $25 million each year from mining royalties to support coal mining communities in NSW through the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund.

For more information about the Royalties for Rejuvenation Fund, visit


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