Coal communities will suffer if government ignores independents’ plan

Published: March 01, 2019

Hunter communities and Lock the Gate Alliance have welcomed a policy statement today by NSW independent MPs Alex Greenwich, Joe McGirr and Greg Piper to introduce a ten year adjustment strategy for NSW coal mining communities.

Together with the release of a similar policy by the NSW Greens this week, this puts coal community transition squarely on the agenda as a major issue which needs to be addressed in NSW as matter of urgency.

The Independent policy, outlined in an opinion piece, seeks to diversify regional NSW economies that are highly dependent on coal mining and likely to be significantly impacted as the world embraces renewable energy and coal demand inevitably declines.

The independent MPs argue that adjustment strategies must be backed by significant funds from the NSW Government, while the NSW Greens have proposed a levy on the coal industry to fund the transition.

Rob McLaughlin from Bulga in the Singleton area said Singleton needed support to prepare for change now and it was time for governments to pull their heads out of the sand.

“This is a vital policy from the NSW independents who have responded to the needs of communities like ours - it should be taken up by all our governments.

“We know change is coming, and we need support now to prepare - otherwise we will be left as victims of our governments ill-considered obsession with coal mining.

“The Hunter region can prosper regardless of decline in the coal industry, but only if we get support and investment to diversify now” Mr McLaughlin said.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods said failing to act now could leave thousands jobless in mining parts of the state, including the Hunter.

“The Weathering the Storm report, released last month, showed the dire situation coal mining communities in the Hunter Valley will find themselves in if the world meets its Paris Agreement goals and we are not prepared,” Ms Woods said.

“We are already seeing big changes in the coal industry. Last week mining giant Glencore announced a cap on coal volumes due to investors’ concerns about climate change.

“The decision by the Land and Environment Court to reject the Rocky Hill mine, partially on the grounds the project would add to carbon emissions, is further evidence change is inevitable.”

“Having most of the cross-bench of NSW Legislative Assembly prioritising this issue is critically important for the Hunter region and the whole state and we welcome the Greens and Independents’ contribution.

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