I am delighted to have been appointed to Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Natural Resources by NSW Labor Leader, Jodi McKay MP. I appreciate her confidence in me.
Mining and forestry are key and important foundational industries for many regional and rural communities across New South Wales. They are both important industry sectors for jobs and the New South Wales economy.
The mining sector employs over 40,000 people and forestry just over 22,000 people – enough people to fill WIN Stadium three times. Mining commodities account for New South Wales’ largest exports.
Mining is particularly important to the Illawarra, as a major feed source for the steel industry at Port Kembla.
I was raised in Mt Kembla, a coal mining village, which currently has a large mine – Dendrobium – at its heart. Mt Kembla saw the tragedy of the deadly nature of mining when 117 years ago, on 31 July 1902, at 2pm, a blast killed 96 men and boys at the Mt Kembla Colliery.
The Illawarra saw more tragedy 77 years later when at 11pm, on 24 July 1979, 14 men were killed at Appin Colliery. This is a dangerous industry and mining safety will always be my main priority.
However, mining is not limited to coal and involves the extraction of other rare earths, which provides the minerals to power our mobile phones, magnets, loud speakers, computer hard-drives, studio lighting, catalytic converters, X-ray and MRI scanning systems, efficient refrigeration systems, the manufacture of wind turbines and hybrid cars.
The forestry and wood products manufacturing sectors is an important industry for communities stretching from Coffs Harbour to Tumut and as far south as Eden.
Both industries are crucial in dealing with challenges of climate change and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
But a balanced approach to policy-making, including science is required and account must be taken of the impact of decisions on jobs, and building the resilience of local communities where mining and forestry play central roles in regional and rural New South Wales.
I look forward to travelling to regional and rural communities across New South Wales during my time as the Shadow Minister to meet with stakeholders, listen and consult on addressing the challenges facing both the mining and forestry industries; the investments needed to build on their futures; and the workers and communities that they are central to.