The world is becoming more complex and confusing. Public debate too often seems irrational and conflicted. Conspiracy theories have become all too common.
The latest scare campaign comes from the modern-day “anti-vaxxers”. The movement is not new, it has been around in some form since the 19th Century. What are they about?
That I can’t quite work out. I do know that in the past, vested interests have been exposed. In other words, some protestors sought financial benefit in their cause. Then there’s the crazies who sign up to “new world order” and “the virus isn’t real” type conspiracies.
Some people have understandable and legitimate concerns and are reluctant to be vaccinated. They include people with existing health conditions. They should be absolutely free to decline the vaccination. Hopefully, the experts will be in a position to ally their fears over time.
But I have little tolerance for those who undermine public confidence in the vaccination program with their conspiracy theories and scare campaigns. Our only certain path back to a strong economy and our previous freedoms is wide-spread vaccination. The anti-vaxxers are a threat to the well-being of our communities.
Further, we are spending tens of millions of taxpayers’ money on information campaigns to build public confidence in the vaccines. The actions of the anti-vaxxers undermine the effectiveness of those campaigns. It is also an offence to our GPs who have joined to give strong support for the vaccination program. It’s them we need to listen to. Please, if you have any doubts, talk to your own GP.
I was saddened to receive a call from Yancoal on Friday night to inform me of the Board’s decision to move Cessnock’s Austar Mine from “care and maintenance” to permanent closure.
Cessnock once boasted up to 40 pits within 30 kilometres of the CBD. Together they directly employed 10,000 workers. On Friday the City lost its last mine, again.
Originally Pelton Pit, generations of Hunter workers have worked and trained there. Sadly, too many have lost their lives too. Growing up and well into my adulthood, it seemed everyone worked or knew someone who worked at Pelton-Ellalong-Austar.
Austar is home to some of the best coking coal in the world but it has become too expensive and too dangerous to mine. An important chapter in our economic and social history is now closing. It’s very sad.
Before anyone jumps up to scream “the transition is on”, Austar’s quality coking coal has no shortage of buyers and is of high value, it’s just too dangerous to mine. Austar has closed and re-opened many times but I fear this is the final curtain.
However, hope springs eternal and we don’t know what opportunities new technology might bring. Certainly, the quality of Greta seam coal will keep investors interested.
In the meantime, we are left to reflect on both the tragedies and the wealth, training and jobs the mine delivered for our region. I’ve spoken with the company and recommended we all work together on a monument of something similar to mark the impact of the mine on our local community.