In my capacity as Federal Minister for Jobs I had the privilege of visiting the Hunter last week and what I saw was exceptional.
I saw businesses like Kari Armitage’s Quarry Mining in Beresfield, employing locals and giving the next generation a crack. Apprentices like Isla and Clancy, young people from the Hunter getting stuck into a trade and making things right here in Australia.
I visited Glendell Coal Mine and saw first-hand the professionalism of the Hunter’s mining sector. A sector that fuels Australia’s economy and generates tens-of-thousands of jobs. I met Patricia, a participant in Glencore’s Indigenous Employment Pathways Program – a great program that is skilling her up to give her a shot at landing a job.
I met Jess when I spoke at the Maitland Business Chamber, she runs a disability employment provider that is helping local people with disability get into work. Just inspiring.
And I can’t forget Mick, a retired coal miner, who is now running shutdowns, keeping people safe and plants running.
But I couldn’t help but notice many people I spoke to felt like the rest of the country didn’t see the contribution they were making. In fact it was clear many in the Hunter feel like people in the cities judge them for the work they are getting on with.
So I wanted to say to every single person putting in the hard yards in the Hunter – we are proud of the work you do and the Morrison Government is backing you in 100%.
We recognise that it was regions like the Hunter that kept Australia going through the Covid Recession.
While city centres were smashed and shuttered; mining, manufacturing and agriculture across Newcastle and the Hunter kept firing.
Whether in the dogwatches in the mines or the dawn shifts on the farms; in your cafes and workshops; in your dump trucks or planting trees - you kept on working.
You kept the lights on. And we see it.
Australia’s economic comeback owes a great debt to the people of the Hunter and we will never take you for granted.
What’s more, we know you’re just getting started.
The Hunter has a big future and it will be built through the sweat and toil of the people of this region.
It is why we are spending almost $4 billion to secure a generation of Islas and Clancys.
It is why we’re investing $66 million upgrading the Newcastle Airport’s runway.
And it is why we’ve committed $600 million for the Kurri Kurri gas plant that will create 1,800 jobs right here in the Hunter Valley – an investment that will ripple right across the local economy.
I’m not afraid to say the Hunter’s future will include mining, and that we want to see the Hunter become a world-leading hydrogen powerhouse.
It is pretty straightforward from our perspective, protect jobs today and secure jobs for tomorrow.
This in stark contrast to the opposition who continue to have a bob each way on the future of the Hunter.
They need to commit to supporting jobs in the Hunter today and tomorrow, it’s pretty simple.
They need to rule out increasing your taxes. Because we reckon you should keep more of what you earn because you work bloody hard for it.
We will never take you for granted.
We will never play politics with your jobs.
Because we see a big future for you and your families in the Hunter.
And we are bloody proud of what you do.