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Country Liberals' Cosplay Fails Rural Workers

In the midst of a hotly contested by-election in Upper Hunter, Sydney-based Liberals including the Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, appear to have rediscovered regional NSW. Mr Perrottet dusted off his RM Williams, found a pair of chinos and presented himself at a mine, talking about his love of blue collar workers.

Up until the shock resignation of the former Member, Dominic Perrottet would not have even known where the Upper Hunter was, but after his photo op, we are supposed to believe this blow-in from Sydney’s northern suburbs is a miner’s champion.

While the Treasurer had some cute lines about the importance of minerals, his rhetoric did not line up with the reality of his tenure as Treasurer.

Dominic Perrottet has spent his entire career in politics supporting the casualization of our workforce and undermining job security in the Upper Hunter and across our whole State.

The people of the Upper Hunter deserve a Government that will create stable, long-term and permanent jobs for workers throughout the resources and energy sector, not grind our pay and conditions into the dirt with further casualisation measures.

When Mr Perrottet says he supports the coal industry, what he means is he supports coal companies, not coal workers. The NSW Liberals and Nationals are there for the bosses, not the people who work hard to actually extract the value from mines in the Hunter Valley.

Where was Mr Perrottet when his Federal LNP colleagues passed industrial relations laws that would smash job security for workers, especially for contract workers? Labor fought hard against these changes, yet Mr Perrottet cheers on his federal colleagues as they sell mining workers’ rights down the river.

Casualisation and the industry’s growing dependence on contract work robs working people of the secure jobs that people need to build a life and family around.

We should never forget that the current safety standards in mines across the country only exist as a result of the hard work and dedication of workers fighting collectively through the trade union movement, for their rights and safety.

These protections weren’t gifted to workers by mining companies or conservative governments. They were hard fought and won by mining workers and their representatives who were sick of seeing their mates get killed at work.

Unlike Dominic Perrottett, I represent an electorate made up of coal miners and coal mining families. I understand the importance of the industry and the importance of institutions like TAFE in helping many families secure a better future for themselves and their children. By contrast, the Berejiklian Government sold off the Scone TAFE campus and turned its back on providing education and training to a new generation of Hunter Valley workers.

While he announced the Nationals candidate for Upper Hunter, I unexpectedly found some common ground with the Deputy Premier, John Barilaro. He stood next to the Treasurer and said that voters will always be able to pick out a politician who is a fraud.

On this, Mr Barilaro is absolutely correct. Voters can see that this Government’s supposed “champion” of the coal miner is a blow in and the worst advocate for workers and their rights since John Howard. Workers in these regions don’t need a Treasurer who dons fancy-dress and speaks condescendingly to them about their industry – they need an advocate in Government who will ensure they are paid well for their labour and that they return home safely from work each day.

Yasmin Catley MP is the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party in New South Wales and the Member for Swansea Facebook


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