The west wants pollies to stand up for jobs

January 12, 2015

Opinion piece by NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee as published in The Daily Telegraph

With a state election looming, 2015 is set to be a watershed year for jobs in NSW.

For the first time in two years we have the opportunity to stem the flow of job losses across Sydney and regional NSW caused by low commodity prices, a high Aussie dollar and a broken planning system in desperate need of ­repair.

Over the last two years, about 4500 jobs have been lost in the mining sector across NSW, and not just in mining regions like the Hunter and the Illawarra, but also in the manufacturing areas of Sydney, suburbs like Auburn, Fairfield and Blacktown.
And, according to recent research by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a further 20,000 jobs are under threat or in limbo, associated with projects caught up in our state planning system.

However, things could be about to change - provided our political leaders stand firm and back NSW jobs.

At the recent NSW mining ­industry conference, Premier Mike Baird made a commitment to fix the broken planning system.

During the past six years assessment time frames for major infrastructure projects in NSW have doubled, from an average of 500 days to more than 1000. Recognising the impact this has on investment and jobs, the premier committed to halve the average assessment time of state significant projects, including mining.

The commitments came with a welcome assurance that the stringent environmental standards that apply in NSW will remain firmly in place.

Like the Premier, Labor has also shown it is listening to people in regional NSW and committed to standing up for jobs. At the same conference, Resources Minister Anthony Roberts and opposition spokesman for resources Steve Whan shook hands in front of a packed auditorium and agreed to bipartisan support to fix the planning system.

New Labor leader Luke Foley has also made an important early ­commitment to stand up for jobs in regional NSW.

Meanwhile, both sides of politics must reject the reckless job-destroying agenda of the NSW Greens.

Whoever wins the March election, the people of NSW want to see these pro-job commitments turned into real action.

It’s true commodity prices are low, and mining has been going through tough times. But when things do turn, NSW needs to be ready to build for the future and support jobs. As the state election approaches, voters from western NSW to Western ­Sydney will be watching to see if our political leaders can get it right.

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