BHP has announced today it will shed another 290 mining jobs in the Hunter.
It is devastating news for the workers involved and their families and our thoughts are with them.
Coal prices have more than halved in the past three years and it’s having a big impact on mining profitability.
That’s why at this time we need to be supporting the industry. I reject the calls of those who would impose more constraints on it or worse, would have it closed.
Those same people say we need a more diverse economy and greater diversity is, and should always be, one of our primary goals.
However, our economy is already quite diverse. Our biggest employers after health and social assistance are retail trade, manufacturing, accommodation, food and other tourism services, education and construction.
At 5.7%, mining is critically important but so too are power generation, transport services, wholesale sales, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, viticulture and thoroughbred breeding.
But mining has provided the leverage for so much local investment – bringing, wealth and strong wages to our region. It has helped to build critical economic infrastructure like the Hunter Expressway which may not have been viable otherwise.
We must continue to build a case for government assistance to create new jobs and to help retrenched miners find new employment opportunities.