20TH ANNIVERSARY, UNEMPLOYMENT, MINING DOWNTURN
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
WEDNESDAY, 2 MARCH 2016
Twenty years ago today I was extended the great privilege of representing the wonderful people of Hunter in this place.
I thank them for the honour.
The Hunter Region is a better, wealthier place, and has better infrastructure than it did twenty years ago.
Its economy is stronger and more diverse. Unemployment - while rising again - is much lower.
But to my frustration, some things haven’t changed.
Chief amongst them is youth and intergenerational unemployment.
Amongst the unemployed are those who are effectively born never to work.
We can’t fully achieve social cohesion, keep crime rates low, or maximise the strength of our economy while ever people are born to be idle.
The intervention has to begin in the earliest years and amongst other things, that means properly resourcing our schools through the Gonski reforms.
We have another big challenge ahead.
The money we secure for our coal has fallen dramatically and thousands are losing their jobs.
Many are, or will be, fifty years of age or more and having spent most or all of their working lives in the mines don’t have skills readily transferable to other occupations.
So we need a plan:-
First, to establish the case for government intervention.
Second to produce a strategy for even greater economic diversity and jobs pathways for those affected by the mining downturn.
And third, to develop a robust funding submission for government funding support.
Along with my commitment to stronger and better health and education systems, these are my key priorities in this election year when I will ask for the opportunity to continue my work.
I close by thanking my wife, family and all those who have supported me over the course of the last two decades. I also express my appreciation for the many friendships I’ve made here.