Singleton's Burdekin Park was a hive of activity on Tuesday morning as media, politicians and Labor stalwarts all gathered for the announcement that Jeff Drayton was Labor's candidate for the Upper Hunter by-election.
Mr Drayton arrived at the event flanked by a number of NSW Labor parliamentarians.
Already gathered in the park were his family wife Susan and children Luke, James and Ella along with Labor Party members from the electorate and a strong presence from the miner's CFMEU of which Mr Drayton is a longtime member.
With cameras rolling and cameras clicking from all the major media outlets Ms McKay said she was very happy Jeff had agreed to be Labor's candidate for Upper Hunter.
"That's because he is the best representative for Upper Hunter having grown up and lived in the region all his life and worked and lived around Muswellbrook," she said.
"I am so excited about this campaign and what we can achieve for this electorate."
Both Ms McKay and Mr Drayton rejected the call made by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for a moratorium on new coal mines.
Mr Drayton said he was sick and tired of coal miners being vilified for doing their jobs - jobs that in fact drive our economy.
"They should be thanked for the work they do, not blamed for doing a hard days work," he added.
His first public appearance as a candidate occurred on the day of his 51st birthday and a cake duly arrived along with the obligatory happy birthday being sung by those in attendance.
Mr Drayton, highlighted once again how many people in the electorate were sick of seeing so much wealth being created and so little being returned to the region.
"I want to represent this electorate to ensure we get our fair share back because for years this region has been neglected by the Coalition," he said.
"Funding for TAFE, hospitals, Singleton bypass and roads will be issues of concern for the communities throughout the electorate."
He described himself as a proud coal miner who has worked in the industry for 20 years including at BHP's Mount Arthur open cut near Muswellbrook. He is a union representative supporting mining workers across the Hunter Valley and the Northern District of NSW
Before that he worked for the late Bob Oatley at his then Rosemount vineyards near Denman.
"My family live on a hobby farm and I have three children who love showing cattle so we also agist cattle on two local farms," he said.
"Like many miners my family are also involved in agriculture and having worked in the industry I have some understanding of issues affecting that industry and during the campaign I am keen to speak to farmers and hear directly what issues they want pursued by their local member."
He also spoke about the role existing coal miners can play once local mines come to the end of their productive life.
With Muswellbrook Coal to cease production in May 2022 he said he wanted some of those workers at the mine used to develop and implement world class rehabilitation work at the site.
A similar situation will arise the following year at Glencore's Liddell mine.
"We have to see the use of best practice in mine rehab and make sure the existing workforce are offered the opportunities to undertake that work."