I will stand up and fight for coalminers, said Barnaby Joyce during a visit to Singleton yesterday to support The Nationals' Michael Johnsen who is seeking re-election for the seat of Upper Hunter in this month's state election.
Mr Joyce the Federal member for New England and former deputy prime minister said his commitment to the coal industry would mean he would take some hits from those opposed to coal mining including from those within the Coalition.
"But I am prepared to stand up and fight for the people of Singleton and Muswellbrook because they need jobs and incomes and the coal industry does just that and will continue to provide jobs and good incomes," he said.
"I simply can't understand why we export cheap power to consumers in Asia by way of thermal coal exports but at the same time as we are not allowed to use our coal to produce cheap power in Australia.
"If we want zero emissions base load energy then we should use nuclear power."
Mr Joyce is hoping that the Federal Minister for Energy Angus Taylor will make an announcement that the Coalition will support the building of new coal fired power stations.
While Mr Joyce and Mr Johnsen were making their pitch for coal, volunteers from the other political parties ,gathered outside Mr Johnsen's office in John Street wavering their placards and voicing their opposition.
Mr Johnsen echoed his neigbouring Federal member's opinion saying coal supplied the cheapest and most reliable power and kept local people in jobs.
"If you visit South Australia as I have all the winds farms have turning a rural landscape into an industrial one and still not supply reliable power," he said.
Michael Johnson, Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals have no credibility when it comes to power prices, the coal industry and jobs in the Hunter region.
It is clear that Barnaby Joyce and Michael Johnson only care about their own jobs, not those of miners and other workers in the Hunter.
Commenting on the latest twist in the campaign for Upper Hunter Country Labor candidate Melanie Dagg said mining families and the wider community in the Hunter are not fooled by Michael Johnsen.
"The Liberals and Nationals, including Michael Johnsen, voted to sell or give away coal fired power stations. Then they tried to spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money to buy them back," she said.
"If Michael Johnsen really cared about jobs in the Hunter region he would address the creeping casualisation of jobs in the NSW coal mining industry, and the downward slide of working conditions. The eroding of secure jobs and conditions is putting enormous strain on families across our community.
"If Michael Johnson really cared about jobs in the Hunter region he would be pushing back on the "fly-in fly-out" contracts which strip mining communities of secure local jobs and decimate the local businesses that rely on those jobs."
Ms Dagg stressed the fact she came from a coal mining family, and knows the stress that mining families are under in this region with job security threatened and working conditions being undermined every day.