News Parliament

MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - Energy

 I'm glad we're discussing energy and energy policy today because it will further shine a light on the extent to which those members opposite have turned their backs on coalminers, on the mining industry and on blue-collar jobs. The extent to which they've done that is quite breathtaking. They've cut them loose, and they've cut them loose in the name of transitioning to a new economy. That's what they call it, but what it really means is they're cutting those workers loose and they're all going to lose their jobs. That's what they're on about on that side of the House. They are betraying the very people who built the Labor Party: the workers in the blue-collar jobs and the miners. They are the people that they are betraying. The reason that they're doing it is pretty clear: they're terrified of the inner-city Greens. They're trying to out-green the Greens in the inner cities in Melbourne, in Sydney and in Brisbane. That's what they're trying to do. It's breathtaking, but it's also disappointing.

I grew up in the Hunter Valley and I know those coalmining communities up there pretty well. I grew up with them. I did. Whenever you played sport out in the coalfields you knew you were in for a tough day at the office. They were cold, hard playing fields; they were tough competitors out there. But I tell you what, they're resilient people out there. They're tough competitors, but they're resilient and good communities. They don't deserve what's happening to them. They don't deserve to be cut loose. They don't deserve the betrayal, the abject betrayal, which is going on at the moment, from those opposite. They have been betrayed. All of those coalfields communities in the Hunter have been betrayed. They've essentially been told that they're all going to lose their jobs and that coalmining is finished—it's just a matter of time.

Let's have a look at the Calare electorate and the coal and power jobs that those opposite want to cut loose. Let's have a look at Mudgee. In Mudgee, we've got about 2,500 people working directly in the coal industry. There are probably another 500 or so working indirectly in the coal industry. That's about 3,000 people in the Mudgee area alone. When I've had an issue with the coal industry before, I've called them out. We saved the drip on the Goulburn River just near Ulan. We got that resolved.

What they want to do is to cut the whole industry loose. That's what they're doing. Look at what's happening over in Lithgow, where you've got the Mount Piper Power Station and the Springvale mine. Those two operations together probably have over 600 jobs at stake. Those on that side of the House want to end coal-fired power generation. That's what they want to do, and it's scary. Look at a community like Lithgow. Coal was instrumental in building Lithgow. So many people from the Lithgow community and the coalmining community have supported the Labor Party over the years only to be betrayed by it now. It's unbelievable and breathtaking at the same time. Mount Piper Power Station needs to remain open. It supplies the equivalent of 15 per cent of the electricity supply of New South Wales. There are many people, including me, who would like to see Mount Piper expanded, but not those opposite.

We still have outstanding legal issues regarding the Springvale mine. I don't deign to provide any comment on the Springvale situation, but I hope all relevant parties are able to work to find a resolution to all outstanding issues over there, because under Labor Mount Piper would close. That's what would happen. The Mount Piper Power Station would close under a Labor government. It's terrifying for those communities who've always supported Labor through the years.

I would say to Labor, the Greens and representatives of Lithgow City Council: 'Don't stand with the Greens when their roadshows roll into Lithgow. Don't stand with them and tell those power workers and coal workers that their futures mean nothing and that they won't have jobs.' I would say that to the councillors of Lithgow: 'Tell the coalmining community of Lithgow and the people of Lithgow that you think the coal industry has a future. Tell them where you stand.' All Lithgow city councillors should tell everyone where they stand: 'Don't stand with the Greens. Don't have photo ops with them in local newspapers. Don't tell them that we have to end coal and that we're aware we have to move on.'

These things are happening now. Their allies are doing it now in Lithgow when the Greens' roadshows roll into Lithgow. They need to stop it. Don't have a bet each way. Don't be like Labor and have a bet each way and sell your constituents out. On the one hand they say, 'Oh, yes, we support coal,' but on the other hand they're working, doing everything in their power, to end coalmining and coal-powered generation in this state and in this country.

Ms Husar interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Before I give the call to the member for Lindsay, we do not need a countdown at the end of the previous speaker.