After recent visits to Scone, Aberdeen, Murrurundi and Merriwa, Greens candidate Mercurius Goldstein says that the communities of the Upper Hunter hold important lessons on jobs, mining and agriculture for voters across New England.
He met with local residents at the Scone Senior Citizens Centre on Thursday afternoon to discuss their concerns.
“I’ve heard from people in the dairying and equine industries about the long-term impacts of mining that will continue to harm agricultural prospects in the Upper Hunter, long after the boom has gone bust,” he said.
“The massive open pits and voids from fossil fuel mining have created ongoing problems with dust and water contamination. The so-called ‘rehabilitation’ efforts to fill the voids with disrupted strata just adds to the mix of salt and toxic materials that end up dispersing through the water tables.”
On the issue of employment growth, Mr Goldstein said the Greens approach would be to revitalise the local livestock industry.
“The Greens plan for jobs in the Upper Hunter is to promote the local livestock industry to scale up meatworks and transportation work in the region. Bringing herds down from the north would spur 1300 ongoing jobs in the region and add $200 million to the regional economy,” he said.
“Another important aspect of the Greens plan for jobs is a National Centre for Sustainable Agriculture that would employ 180 specialist agriculture extension officers to assist farmers on their land with on-farm research grants.”
Mr Goldstein also pledged to restore the public TAFE in Scone to full capacity, with free and affordable face-to-face teaching courses, literacy and numeracy programs and specialist assistance for skills, traineeships and students with disabilities.
“Employers need TAFE just as much as students, and the Greens plan to restore TAFE will ensure there are skilled graduates available to drive the businesses of the Upper Hunter,” he said.
“While the Nationals, Labor, and Tony Windsor all continue to have one foot in the mines, the Greens are showing the way forward to long-term sustainability and employment in agriculture, renewable energy, and support for our local livestock industry.”
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