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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Ian Kirkwood

Labor's Meryl Swanson hits back at Liberal Brooke Vitnell over 'caring for coalminers'

ON THE JOB: Labor candidate for Hunter, Dan Repacholi, Labor resources spokesperson Madeleine King and Paterson MP Meryl Swanson during a recent visit to Yancoal's Ashton underground mine between Singleton and Muswellbrook. Picture: ALP

MERYL Swanson, the incumbent Labor MP for Paterson, says her Coalition challenger Brooke Vitnell is talking "nonsense to suggest Labor does not support coalminers and coal mining communities".

Ms Swanson was responding to comments the Liberal candidate for the marginal seat made during a visit to the region on Monday by Resources Minister Keith Pitt - as reported below.

"Labor is not beholden to the Greens on any policy," Ms Swanson said on Tuesday.

"This lie is promulgated by the Liberals and the Nationals to drive a wedge between our communities. It will not work."

Ms Swanson said the Coalition's industrial relations changes had entrenched the ability of employers to pay casual mineworkers far less than those with permanent jobs.

"Coalminers should earn the same pay whether they are employed through labour hire or employed directly," Ms Swanson said.

"Labor's Same Job Same Pay policy will bring an end the labour hire rorts that are ripping workers off. Coalminers should earn the same pay whether they are employed through labour hire or employed directly.

"The Liberals and Nationals don't care about miners. They simple care about the revenue they generate."

Ms Swanson described herself as "the daughter of a coalminer a who was "proud of the hard work and sacrifices made by our mining community". She said she "never shied away from that pride".

"I took a miner's lamp with me the first time I spoke in Parliament and held it as a symbol of my heritage, my beliefs, and my aspirations," Ms Swanson said.

BIG NUMBERS: Nationals candidate James Thomson with Resources Minister Keith Pitt at Rixs Creek yesterday. Mr Pitt says only the Coalition can protect Australia's $425-billion resources industry. Picture: National Party


LIBERAL candidate for Paterson, Brooke Vitnell, has vowed a Coalition government "won't be reducing emissions at the expense of businesses and jobs in our regions".

Ms Vitnell made the comment during another visit to the Hunter yesterday by Resources and Water Minister Keith Pitt.

She said she was "sick of people demonising the industries that have made our region prosperous".

"Unlike Labor, we won't be reducing emissions at the expense of businesses and jobs in our regions," Ms Vitnell said.

Mr Pitt visited Bloomfield Group's Rix's Creek open-cut near Singleton and the Port of Newcastle with Ms Vitnell and the National Party's candidate for the vacant Labor-held seat of Hunter, James Thomson.

Mr Pitt said "only the Coalition stands in full support of our resources workers with a plan for the industry's long term future"

He said Australia's $425 billion resources and energy sector was at stake in an election where the ALP was "dominated by its green/left faction".

"Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles is on the record saying the end of coal would be a good thing and Shadow Minister Mark Butler told a climate change conference that coal and gas have no future in Australia," Mr Pitt said.

"Labor had to take a vote in its caucus to decide whether the party will support important new gas projects that are crucial to Australia's future.

"In contrast, the Coalition has the policies that will see the resources and energy sector continue to grow, ensuring our energy and national security," Minister Pitt said.

"Through our gas-led recovery, we're backing the development of new projects in the Beetaloo, North Bowen and Galilee Basins that will deliver thousands of new jobs, generate billions of dollars of economic activity and ensure our energy supply well into the future.

Mr Thomson, who is standing against Labor's candidate Dean Repacholi after the retirement of sitting member Joel Fitzgibbon, said the Nationals supported "the 14,000 families that rely on mining in our region".

"As I talk to butchers, hair dressers and other small businesses who rely on the industry there's concern that a Labor/Greens Government will take a sledge hammer to the Hunter's economy," Mr Thomson said.

"They want a secure future for the local mining sector."

PIT TO PORT: James Thomson, Brooke Vitnell and Keith Pitt on Monday at the Port of Newcastle. Picture: National Party
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