GREENS candidate for the Upper Hunter Tony Lonergan has slammed the NSW Minerals Council 2019 Election Policy Priorities Manifesto as “a self-interested and dishonest sham”.
The organisation released its strategy last week, ahead of the state election due on March 23, outlining five key principles and 20 specific commitments that would deliver jobs, investment and growth, keep the economy strong, and support mining communities.
“Mining in NSW employs more than 40,000 people, is NSW’s largest single export industry, directly injects around $10 billion a year in salaries and business purchases and is forecast to deliver a record $2 billion in royalties in the next financial year,” CEO Stephen Galilee said.
“The polls are showing the NSW election will be extremely close and voters in mining-dependent electorates like Upper Hunter, Orange, Barwon and Dubbo could decide the election outcome.
“We want to make sure that 40,000 miners and their families living in NSW are fully aware of the policies of those seeking to represent them before they vote.
“We’re seeking responses from political parties that will be circulated widely to thousands of people working in our sector, as well as to mining supplier businesses, and broadly across regional mining communities, including in key mining electorates.”
But, Mr Lonergan stated the manifesto ignored the serious impacts of climate change, caused by burning coal and other fossil fuels.
“It also fails to recognise that the Hunter Valley is now saturated with coal mines and the cumulative environmental and social impacts have a high cost into the future,” he said.
“The coal industry has been historically important in the Hunter.
“However, as mining giants continue to pressure governments, and at the same time replace permanent workers with contractors to increase their profits, the wider community is well aware of what is at stake.
“The impacts on the Hunter are abundantly clear to any objective person driving from Singleton to Muswellbrook, past mountains of mine spoil and a haze of dust.”
Mr Lonergan, who’ll contest the seat against the likes of Nationals incumbent Michael Johnsen, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers’ Lee Watts, Country Labor’s Melanie Dagg and Richard Stretton (Christian Democrats), said 9000 miners voted with their feet – and drove to their homes outside the area – at the end of their shift each day.
“Meanwhile, small rural communities have completely disappeared or have been hollowed out, leaving an isolated few with no neighbours,” he explained.
“The Hunter River and rural industries such as dairy, beef, horse-breeding and wine production are seriously compromised.
“The ridiculous claim that only coal can supply cheap reliable electricity was disproven last week when some Victorians were without power because old coal-fired plants tripped.
“Renewables held the system up.
“Renewables with storage are now cheaper than coal and clean coal is an expensive joke.
“People are very concerned about climate change as we sweat our way through the hottest January on record in NSW.
“The drought has been exceptional by any standard and has no end in sight.
“Globally, the past five years have been the hottest ever recorded, the oceans have never been warmer and carbon emissions are still rising.
“The Upper Hunter Greens support a transition to a renewable energy economy while we still have time.”
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