Today I offer my complete and unabated support for the coalmining industry in New South Wales. I was raised in Cessnock on a bed of coal from the coalfields of the Hunter. Interestingly, coalmining in Newcastle first started in the 1790s and quickly spread west. Certainly during the twentieth century there was coalmining in Cessnock, Kurri Kurri and Maitland; it has since moved a little further west and north west. Today in Parliament the Minister said that 9,600 people are directly employed by the coalmining industry in my electorate. One would think that would be reason enough for me to support the coalmining industry. That is an important reason, but I will give more reasons. The coalmining industry in the Cessnock electorate built pools, hospitals, police boys clubs and more. That is what the coalmining industry has done in my community. It has made people wealthy enough that they can buy their own house and land. It has made it possible for families to become asset rich, to travel and to educate their children.
One of the proudest things that the coalmining people of my community do is send their next generation to university, whether it be to study a degree that might land them back in the coalmining industry, to study a degree that takes them somewhere else on planet earth or to study a degree that brings them back into community services to be school teachers, nurses or whatever. That is what the coalmining industry has done in my community. But that is still not the reason I support the industry. When I got home I switch on the lights, turn on the television and open the fridge or turn on the kettle. That is another reason to support the coal industry in New South Wales. Greens members who sit in this Chamber and in the other place say no to coal. The irony is that they also go home and switch on lights. Yet they say no to coal.
On the weekend the Leader of the Opposition was invited to attend a seminar called “Our Land, Our Water, Our Future”. The seminar’s name identifies for me the deceit of The Greens, because it should have been called, “No more coal. Shut down the State.” In good faith the Leader of the Opposition attempted to try to engage in conversation with them, but they are deliberately trying to be deceptive and tricky to get people tied up in knots to achieve their own end. This all comes from Jonathan Moylan, the same person who issued the fake ANZ release that cost shareholders millions of dollars. These people who say they are holier than thou, who preach from the high moral ground, say, “You’ve got to follow the rules. You’ve got to be transparent and do things the right way, but we don’t because we are holier than thou.”
The New South Wales coal industry provides $1.7 billion to this State’s economy. That makes it possible for us to have schools. I would love to hear The Greens policy when they shut down coal. How will they pay for schools and roads? How will they pay for public transport that they want to be free, not just cheap? How will we pay for those things if we do not receive these royalties? Every weekend the jobs listed in the local newspaper are in the coal industry, not in wind farms, solar or any other renewable energy sources. I am a massive fan of renewable energy: I want us to embrace renewable energy. Members opposite want to prosper and develop renewables. We all see that as the future, but in my lifetime we will not be switching on the lights in our homes or running our fridges on 100 per cent, or even 50 per cent, of renewable energy sources.
We will be running those appliances on coal, in the same that people have relied on coal for the past 200 years, and probably will do so for the next 100 years at least. We will always work towards using more renewable energy. Today, tomorrow and in my lifetime energy will be provided by coal, coal and coal. I say to The Greens that if they have some other plan, solution or other way to have energy without coal, bring it on. All The Greens do is deceive, scaremonger and seek to trip up people. The Greens are anything but clear, transparent or open with the community. The Greens should get down off the high moral ground and tell everyone what they are all about. Do not deceive us.