Labor comes back to its coal heartland

Now if ever there was evidence that nothing remains the same then the fact The National Party now considers itself to be the party to best represent coalminers then we are certainly living in very different times to what existed just a few years ago.

At that time and for for more than a century the Labor Party was the party of miners - look at the seat of Hunter always held, since Federation, by the Labor Party.

The unions that represented the mineworkers were closely aligned the the Labor Party - it was a fact of life.

Now with the changes in mine operations whereby the majority of our region's mines are open cut not underground we have witnessed a seismic shift in political allegiances along with how coal is extracted.

Gone are small Australian owned pits with miners living close by- today the industry is run by multinational mining giants exporting more than 90 per cent of their production.

The majority of workers are dump truck operators who may or may not have a long family association with coal mining. In these new times voting patterns are changing as witnessed by the 2019 Federal election when our longterm sitting Federal member Joel Fitzgibbon's vote nosedived due to his perceived lack of interest in supporting local coal miners.

Since then Mr Fitzgibbon has been loud and clear in his support for the mining industry which given his region's history is pretty well an acceptable position. However he must continue to be honest with his constituents regards the future specifically for thermal coal and the impacts of open cut mining on the health of the Upper Hunter residents.

As to The Nationals their new found love of mining and coalminers does appear to be somewhat expedient and resulting in them neglecting their natural constituency - farmers.

Agricultural industries in the Upper Hunter have consistently opposed expansion of coal mines in their region due to its adverse impacts in particular on water sources and land use conflicts. The National Farmers Federation and many other leading farming organisations support climate change action and a strong emissions reduction target a view lacking in our local National Party representatives. Hopefully a consensus can be found that delivers a future for our community with political point scoring dumped in favour of our wellbeing not theirs.