David Littleproud says the seat of Hunter is the right fit for the National Party

Building a platform: Deputy Leader of the federal Nationals, David Littleproud, and Nationals Senator for NSW, Perin Davey, in Singleton on Wednesday. Picture: Matthew Kelly
Building a platform: Deputy Leader of the federal Nationals, David Littleproud, and Nationals Senator for NSW, Perin Davey, in Singleton on Wednesday. Picture: Matthew Kelly

The National Party will target one of Labor's crown jewels, the seat of Hunter, in the next federal election, the party's deputy leader has confirmed.

David Littleproud and National Party senator Perin Davey arrived in Singleton on Wednesday hot on the heels of the federal budget announcement of $560 million for the Singleton Bypass.

"Not only will this project create over 1,370 jobs but it will also support faster and cheaper freight both to and from the New England and the North West," Mr Littleproud said.

In addition to promoting the Coalition's contribution to the bypass, Mr Littleproud made it clear his party had ambitions to win the seat, which Labor has held for more than a century.

"We believe the seat of Hunter sits better within the National Party than any other political party in the country," Mr Littleproud said.

Labor's Joel Fitzgibbon narrowly retained the seat in last year's election following a massive swing to One Nation's Stuart Bonds.

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The swing was attributed to Labor's divisive energy policy that saw thousands of voters who rely on the mining sector desert the party.

Mr Littleproud said Labor's internal division on energy still haunted the party.

"With all due respect, Joel has been here a long time and he has been playing politics a long time. It would seem after the last election the people of Hunter don't feel he has been representing them well.

"The National Party will be fielding a strong candidate and you will see a lot of National Party ministers and senators through here to make sure we articulate quite strongly the values and principles of the National Party."

Mr Fitzgibbon, who has held the seat since 1996, said he was up for the fight.

Bring it on: Mr Fitzgibbon welcomed the National Party's interest in the seat.

Bring it on: Mr Fitzgibbon welcomed the National Party's interest in the seat.

"When Labor committed to funding the Singleton by-pass during last year's election campaign the Nats dismissed it as unrealistic because, by their own admission, it wasn't sufficiently advanced to receive construction funding," he said.

"I'm pleased our commitment got them focused on a project which I've been fighting to secure for many years.

"On energy policy the Nats and Libs are the parties suffering a split, just take a look at the comments of Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce following the PM's recent Tomago visit. Labor supports our coal mining and electricity generation sectors, always have and always will.

"I welcome any additional interest in Hunter from the Nats; they have ignored us for too long. I'm up for the fight and jobs and job security will remain a priority for me."

Mr Littleproud also revealed discussions about funding the $65 million upgrade of Newcastle Airport's runway were continuing after the project missed out in the federal budget.

"It's going to be the region's that get us out of this COVID recession; if we are going to make investments on behalf of the Australian taxpayer we need to make sure they are going to get a return," he said.

"It (the runway upgrade) will be assessed on its merits. We need to look at what opportunities lie there not just for the Hunter Region but for regional NSW and Australia.

"I think you will find there are further discussions and deliberations to be had with the Deputy Prime Minister in the near future."

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This story Nationals make play for seat of Hunter first appeared on Newcastle Herald.