Last week Newcastle Council created controversy by resolving to shun the coal industry as an investment choice.  It is clear the beach-side councillors who sponsored and supported the motion did so to send a clear message; that the City does not support the coal mining industry.

This is extraordinary on two fronts.  First, the City of Newcastle benefits significantly from the industry.  Indeed its latest great project, the ANZAC Walk, was funded by one of our largest coal companies.

Newcastle is home of the world’s biggest coal export port and a large part of its manufacturing sector is dependent on the coal industry.

Second, those of us who live further up the valley are far more dependent on the sector for our economic well-being.  So we have beach-side councillors willing to damage us in order to pursue a political agenda.

By the time this column goes to print, the issue will probably have calmed down.  But the resolution will remain on Newcastle Council’s books and the policy will remain in place.  I believe the resolution should be rescinded.

In the unlikely event Cessnock, Singleton or Muswellbrook Councillors were to submit and pass a similar motion I wouldn’t agree with it but I would respect their right to take a decision which they believed had the support of their local communities.

But we should all be offended by the audacity of Newcastle councillors who have given no thought to the impact of their decision on us.   They should leave the beach and come and see for themselves the importance of coal mining jobs here.

Like all developed countries, over the coming decades Australia will draw more of its energy needs from renewable technologies.  The markets will guarantee it.  But coal will continue to play an important role in our economy and will continue to help developing countries emerge from poverty.  Newcastle councillors should keep them in mind too!

On a similar topic I welcome the prospects of the Redbank Power Station re-opening.  For some time now I’ve been speaking with the proponents of the new venture who appear to have a sound business proposition.

The company involved estimates the re-commissioning will create around 150 jobs at a time we desperately need them.  Fingers crossed it all works out.

Thursday 3 September is Australian National Flag Day. It celebrates the occasion the National Flag was first flown, on 3 September 1901, at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne.

As Federal Member for Hunter I am able to provide free of charge flags to not-for-profit organisations and I also have a limited number of flags for personal requests. 

If your organisation needs a new Australian, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander flag, please contact my office on 1300 301 753 and one will be arranged for you.

In Canberra last week I had the opportunity to catch up with students and teachers from Ellalong Public School.

School visits to Parliament House are an important tool in educating our students on the benefits of living in a democracy and the working of our parliamentary system.

I remind organisers of visits to Parliament to let my office know of the trip in advance so that I can maximise my chances of catching up with the group whilst in Canberra.

If your know someone who has recently visited Parliament House on a school excursion, make sure you check out the photos on my facebook page.

I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

Why not go the extra step by following me on my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter and type in the search bar “fitzhunter”. Or by regularly checking my website at www.joelfitzgibbon.com or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.

To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.

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