Cessnock Electorate Job Losses

 I use the opportunity of my last speech of the year to invite the Premier to come up to the electorate of Cessnock to help me campaign. The reality is that there are wonderful opportunities for the Premier to come to talk to my community about people who no longer have jobs as a result of the decisions of this Government. I will start back in 2011 with the hydro aluminium smelter. Prior to the 2011 election the Treasurer, Eric Roozendaal, failed to give an electricity guarantee to the aluminium smelter. It was a disgrace and a shame. I do not have a problem saying that most of my branch members numbered Eric below the line, and may have put him last. In the lead-up to the election, Leader of the Opposition Barry O’Farrell, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Stoner and at least four other shadow Ministers came up to Cessnock and said, “We will guarantee you an electricity supply. You will survive under us.” Of course, the consequence was that the hydro aluminium smelter shut down and 550 workers lost their jobs. They did not get the electricity supply that was promised.

The flow-on effects of that were that the local hairdresser did not have as many people making bookings, the local hamburger joint did not have as many people buying lunch, the local Thai restaurant did not benefit from Thai workers at the smelter and the local contractors did not have the work on site. The local bowling club had to lay off 20 per cent of its staff. I will move to the last part of 2012, when the cellar door subsidy was ripped out of the wine region of the Hunter Valley. The decision essentially meant that dozens and dozens of people lost their jobs. The cellar door subsidy was established by a former Labor government so that a cellar door could sell its liquid wonders at a price that matched the likes of Dan Murphy’s. The Government decided to rip that subsidy out and dozens of people lost their jobs. Maybe Gladys would like to come up to talk to the smelter workers, the community or some of the cellar door staff members.

I fast forward to 2014 when we were brought back into this Chamber and were convinced by Premier O’Farrell that the Doyles Creek mining licence had to go because of all the Independent Commission Against Corruption issues. It turns out that that was not exactly true. As a result, more than 300 people have failed to be employed in an underground coalmine up there. On top of that, one of the existing drilling contractors up there, Howarth Drilling—which is run by the wonderful Warwick Howarth and his family—had to lay off 15 staff members. Warwick lost a business that was worth somewhere in the vicinity of $10 million or $15 million. He is now cleaning toilets at the local bowling club to put food on the table because of a decision made in this House.

I fast forward to the numerous issues with Smart and Skilled. One of my local Smart and Skilled providers offered laundry and dry cleaning training. But because the Government put the process under PricewaterhouseCoopers, which did not understand the business, it underfunded the industry to the point where people are no longer being properly trained in laundry. The local family business in my electorate has crumbled almost to its knees and is at risk year to year of falling over because the Government made incredibly poor decisions based on the bottom line instead of the needs of the community and industry to have people properly trained.

Another organisation in my electorate that was affected by Smart and Skilled was an early childhood education organisation that was training people to work in the early childhood industry. Incredibly, the organisation was defeated under the Smart and Skilled selection process by a company that registered as a $2 shelf company two days before bids closed. The company had no industry experience, no programs and no staff, while the local company that I represent had 30 years or 40 years of experience in the industry. After the $2 shelf company was successful and my company lost, it rung my local company and asked for its programs and poached its staff. More recently, there is the issue with Transqual, which is owed $500,000 for training by the State Government. It has gone bankrupt because the bills have not been paid. Gladys, please come up.