LABOR’S Upper Hunter candidate Jeff Drayton announced a mine rehabilitation jobs plan in Muswellbrook today to preempt when coal mines close after exhausting their coal reserves and power stations close when the technology reaches its use-by date.
The plan is intended to give direction to miners once they reach the end of their working lives and a new lease on life for the retiring mines and power stations if the site owner commits to maintaining or increasing the number of jobs at the site, retaining valuable infrastructure and land rehabilitation.
Labor would meet the cost of master planning in order to increase the number of jobs at the site.
With two local coal mines and a power station facing closure in the near future – and a new gas-fired power station announced today creating 10 ongoing operational jobs, Mr Drayton said workers need action now, not more talk.
“We have hundreds of coal workers in our community right now wondering what comes next for them. Their work sees millions of dollars sent down to Sydney to build fancy stadiums and new light rail but they get no support in return.” Mr Drayton said.
“They don’t need more ideological hot air, they need an urgent and practical plan for jobs,” he said.
Mr Drayton, a former coal miner, said he understands the importance of creating opportunities when a site reaches its end of life.
“I know exactly what it’s like to work on a mine and to feel that uncertainty about your future. Mineworkers deserve secure, local jobs,” Mr Drayton said.
“Coal mining is the backbone of the Upper Hunter community. I put my name forward in this race because I’m passionate about growing those jobs and supporting the towns and communities that make this region great. This plan is about working to secure good jobs, long into the future,” he said.
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Paul Scully said there’s no reason the overall job numbers should decrease when sites close.
“There are a range of reuse options for mine sites once mining operations have ended. The sites contain considerable infrastructure such as utility supplies, roads, buildings, hardstands and rail connections that may be able to be repurposed or reused,” Mr Scully said.
Under Labor’s ‘Rehabilitation for Job Creation’ plan, the NSW Government would:
• Meet the cost of developing a master plan, in conjunction with the site owner and relevant Council, for a mine site or coal-fired power station, if requested by the site owner in advance of the end of mining or power generation, to maintain or grow employment on the site
• Require the site to be returned to a safe, stable and non-polluting condition and any changes to original rehabilitation conditions would need to specify the rehabilitation conditions and completion criteria
• The master plan could provide for the repurposing or reuse of site infrastructure and incorporate areas for environmental sustainability, biodiversity and habitat renewal
• A master-planned site would still be required to seek relevant planning approvals for future use of the site and the proponent would be required to meet rehabilitation costs.
“I’m determined to get our fair share for mine workers. I’m asking them to give me chance to do that this Saturday,” Mr Drayton said.
For more information on where candidates stand: Voting 101: Upper Hunter by-election.