Get all your news in one place
100’s of premium titles. One news app. Zero ads. Just $10 per month.

Jobs, GPs and dredging are the tone of Hunter's new political voice

Dan Repacholi celebrating the win at Cessnock Leagues Club Saturday night. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

WITH BIG ambitions for the electorate's energy future, Labor's fresh face in the Hunter says he's here to stay.

Leading up to the election, Labor committed to matching the Coalitions' $82 million in funding for a Hunter Super Hydrogen Hub as well as their own $16 million commitment to build an energy research centre at the University of Newcastle.

The announcements followed $700 million in equity committed in February by Labor to making the Kurri gas peaking plant operate on green hydrogen by 2030.

On Sunday, newly elected Hunter MP Dan Repacholi said the region is preparing for "the biggest boom we have seen in years and years".

"We are going to have a booming mining sector and we are also going to have a booming renewables and hydrogen sector," Mr Repacholi said.

The ALP have committed to net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050, with a 43 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 - a significant difference to the Coalition's 26 to 28 per cent reduction target for 2030.

When asked by the Newcastle Herald if a more ambitious climate target equates to lost jobs in the Hunter's coal industry, Mr Repacholi said "most certainly not".

"We are all about jobs, job security and making more jobs for the hunter," the former mine worker said.

"While people want to buy our coal we will sell them our coal, there's no doubt about that one at all.

"But whilst we are doing that we need to diversify this region and continue to work with the private sector and make this area a hydrogen hub."

Mr Repacholi claimed victory over the Nationals candidate James Thomson at around 10pm Saturday night.

James Thomson concession speech

In what many tipped to be a tight race, dominated by preference flows from minor parties, Mr Repacholi saw an almost one per cent swing to the ALP on a two candidate preferred basis - claiming around 36,000 first preference votes compared with Mr Thomson's 26,000.

Looking to the future, the five-time Olympic pistol shooter said that while settling in to political life is his current priority, there are hopes of a portfolio one day.

"Sports minister would be quite good and would fit in pretty well with being an Olympian but that's pretty far down the track. Let's just get down there and find the lay of the land first," he said.

"The biggest thing for me in Canberra is that it is a platform for me to voice the opinions of 128,000 people in this electorate."

On Saturday night, when comparing political life to Olympic preparation, Mr Repacholi said "they all have their challenges".

"Challenges are good and challenges make us drive for harder things and better things. If everything was easy everyone would do it. So it's good that sometimes things are hard."

Held by Labor since 1910, the Hunter has had a federal candidate with the Fitzgibbon family since 1984, first by Eric Fitzgibbon until 1996 when his son Joel Fitzgibbon took up the mantle - retiring this year.

Acknowledging the diversity of his electorate - which includes western Lake Macquarie - Mr Repacholi said as well as "same job, same pay" for workers in the Hunter, his immediate concerns are around access to GPs and dredging of the lake.

Labor's four members in the greater Hunter region are Meryl Swanson (Paterson), Dan Repacholi (Hunter), Pat Conroy (Shortland) and Sharon Claydon (Newcastle). Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Mr Repacholi stood with Labor members for Shortland, Paterson and Newcastle in Toronto earlier this month, in a commitment to restore full funding to the Hunter's GP Access After Hours service, and establish an "urgent care" facility in Cessnock.

"It's the same at Toronto or Wyee but it's also the same up at Muswellbrook," Mr Repacholi said on Sunday.

"Everywhere you go people are waiting weeks to see a doctor and it is a huge priority for us to make sure we get that changed."

Labor has also committed to establishing a permanent dredge in Lake Macquarie, which their analysis showed would result in a 150 per cent increase in visitor numbers to the lake.

"When we get the dredging done then the big boats can come back to the lake and tourism will flourish even more than it already is."

National's candidate James Thomson (28.2 per cent first preferences, One Nation's Dale McNamara (9.75 per cent) and Independent Stuart Bonds (5.75 per cent) accepted Labor's victory while taking individual pride in some aspect of their electoral performances.

Mr Thomson told supporters the party would regroup in the region and that another shot at the seat was only three years off.