Those who oppose coal mining in the Hunter often argue we should be striving towards more economic diversity.  Of course we should, always. 

But let us not have it that we lack diversity, we don’t; retail, agriculture, manufacturing, thoroughbred breeding, viticulture, construction, accommodation and food services to name a few. 

Indeed, the retail, manufacturing and construction sectors all employ more than does mining.  Having said that, it’s important to note that many of our businesses rely heavily on the mining sector.  Indeed, according to the Hunter Valley Research Foundation, sixty percent of businesses in the Upper Hunter are dependent on coal mining.

So it is true that coal mining ads to our diversity.  Why would we want less of an industry that delivers high incomes to so many?  The only argument that could be mounted is to suggest the mining sector is sucking up too much of the workforce and denying other sectors employees.  While this has been true during short periods including the construction phase of the most recent mining boom, it is not generally true.

In any case, while we would all like the mining companies to do more, the mining sector provides a not insignificant amount of training locally.  The big mistake was for government not to invest more of the mining boom into skills training in areas common to both mining and other sectors.  We started doing so from 2007 but for almost thirteen years John Howard did just the opposite.

The collapse of coal prices has given us a taste of what the Hunter would be like without the mining sector.  Let’s hope last week’s speculation about worse to come proves unfounded!

Did you know that the ATO has a range of free-to-view videos that help explain tax and super in languages other than English?

Whether you have recently arrived in Australia or are an established business owner - the ATO has a range of videos in various languages that cover tax and super topics.

You can watch the videos on the ATO website in Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Thai, Korean, Turkish, Farsi, Russian, and Somali.

Stay up to date and view our latest videos, by subscribing to the ATO’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/AusTaxOffice.

You can also find general tax and super information in up to 25 languages at www.ato.gov.au/otherlanguages

Nominations for the 2016 Youth People’s Advisory Committee are now open!

Nominations are being sought to form the 2016 Youth Week in NSW Young People’s Advisory Committee (YPAC). The YPAC is responsible for providing advice on the management and operation of Youth Week 2016 in NSW.

Becoming a member of the YPAC is an opportunity for young people who have been part of planning or organising Youth Week events and activities in their local community, to have their say on how Youth Week is run at a state level.

It is open to young members who come from a diversity of geographically, cultural and life experiences which are broadly representative of the diversity of young people in NSW.  Young people from metropolitan, regional and rural areas; young men and women; young aboriginal people; young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; and young people with experience in working on Youth Week events and activities are being sought.

Information and application forms for membership of the Young People’s Advisory Committee are attached and can also be found on the Youth Week website at http://www.youthweek.nsw.gov.au/resources/

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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