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Swanson hits back at Minister’s ‘mining’ slur


Paterson federal MP Meryl Swanson has hit back at Keith Pitt’s claims that Labor has abandoned the region’s mining heartland.

The Minister for Resources and Water visited Newcastle on Monday, stating now was not the time to risk such an important sector with a party “dominated by its inner-city left faction and beholden to the demands of The Greens to take government”.

“The choice for voters is simple,” Mr Pitt told the media ahead of the 21 May election.

“They can vote for a Liberal-Nationals Coalition that stands side-by-side with the industry and the 1.2 million jobs it supports or a Labor party that is clearly divided over Australia’s biggest industry.

“While our resources sector has provided the backbone for Australia’s economic security through the pandemic, Labor MPs and Senators have argued among themselves over whether they should support its future.

“Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles is on the record saying the end of coal would be a good thing.

“Then you have Shadow Minister Mark Butler telling a climate change conference that coal and gas have no future in Australia.”

But, Ms Swanson emphatically rebuffed Mr Pitt’s assertions.

“It is nonsense to suggest Labor does not support coalminers and coalmining communities,” she said.

“I am the daughter of a coalminer and have friends and family who are coalminers.

“Coalminers are my constituents; I hear from them regularly and I know the issues they face.

“I took a miner’s lamp with me the first time I spoke in Parliament and held it as a symbol of my heritage, my beliefs and my aspirations.

“And, it remains important to me today.

“I am proud of the hard work and sacrifices made by our mining community to keep the lights on and to fill the nation’s coffers to build our hospitals, our schools and our roads.

“I never shy away from that pride and from that support.

“It has not diminished in any way.”

Ms Swanson highlighted hosting Labor’s Shadow Minister for Resources Madeleine King in the region as an example of her allegiance to the industry.

“I don’t recall seeing the Nationals’ Minister for Resources [in the Hunter] any time recently,” she said.

“In fact, he’s only just been put back on the front bench.

“Together with Labor’s candidate for Hunter Dan Repacholi, who is in fact a coalminer, Madeleine and I went underground at Yancoal’s Ashton Mine.

“The week after that I visited Bloomfield Colliery, as well attended the Mining and Energy Union Northern Region Delegates dinner, where I introduced guest speaker Kristina Keneally.

“All this demonstrates Labor’s commitment to mining.

“To us, miners are not cogs in an economic wheel, they are people who work and live in our communities – whose work keeps our communities going.

“Resources are the backbone of our economy.

“And, Labor will continue to support the industry and those who work in it.”

Ms Swanson stressed the party was not obligated to The Greens on any policy.

“This lie is promulgated by the Liberals and the Nationals to drive a wedge between our communities,” she said.

“It won’t work.

“We have stated categorically that we seek to form government in our own right and, when we do, we will continue to be strong supporters of the resources sector.

“None of that is in conflict with our policies on climate change and emissions reduction.

“They work hand-in-hand to create a strong economy that looks after Australians, that looks after workers in industries such as coal mining.

“Labor has supported miners directly through our Same Job Same Pay policy, which will bring an end the labour hire rorts that are ripping workers off.

“Coalminers should earn the same pay whether they are employed through labour hire or employed directly.

“But, the Liberals and Nationals have allowed cowboy operators to exploit workers and to cheat them out of a fair day’s pay.

“Labor will end these rorts.”

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