17 March 2009
Greens MP Lee Rhiannon and Newcastle Greens Councillor Michael Osborne have slammed Newcastle Mayor John Tate's stunt in The Australian today, saying he is selling out future jobs growth for Newcastle by clinging to a bygone era when the coal industry delivered jobs growth for the Hunter.
"It is foolish for John Tate to lump Newcastle in with Mount Isa and Gladstone as a mining town, when only 3% of the Hunter's employment comes from the mining industry," Ms Rhiannon said.
"Employment figures show that Hunter based mining jobs have fallen from 4% in 1996 to only 3% in 2006.
"The coal industry jobs market has been steadily shrinking and has proven extremely vulnerable to the economic downturn sweeping the world.
"Newcastle Mayor John Tate should be lobbying Premier Nathan Rees to invest in Hunter- based renewable energy industries to create long term local jobs growth.
"The potential for Hunter based jobs in renewable energy and public transport is massive, and jobs created would last for many decades, unlike coal mining jobs.
"Multinational mining companies don't consider the future needs of local communities. They will only operate in the Hunter while the company is making a profit," said Ms Rhiannon.
Newcastle Greens Councillor Michael Osborne said:
"Newcastle's economic growth is driven by new jobs in retail and service industries like education, health, tourism and the arts. Our economy has shifted since BHP closed down.
"Newcastle's future is culture, not coal.
"John Tate should be lobbying for local green jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency – jobs that are secure, well-paid and environmentally friendly.
"Newcastle City Council needs vision for the future and that means continuing the shift away from mining towards sustainable industries," Councillor Osborne said.