Canberra Report - Let's make the most of the By-Election - Wednesday, 15 April 2021

Canberra Report - Let's make the most of the By-Election - Wednesday, 15 April 2021 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

16 April 2021

Singleton is about to be invaded by politicians and journalists.  The national media spotlight will shine on us and we should make the most of the opportunities all the attention offers.

Both our aspirations and needs will be on display and there will never be a better time to focus the minds of others on our local economy, job security, and our health and education needs.  And of course, our justified impatience regarding the Singleton bypass and its design shortcomings.

Let’s make the most of it for the duration on the Upper Hunter by-election.


I still hear people conflating discussion about the future of our coal sector and the coal-fired generation sector. The two industries have been the backbone of our local economy for decades and they will continue to be so.  The Liddell power plant will soon retire after 50 years of service and that’s unavoidable. But Bayswater is about to receive a big upgrade and will continue to give loyal service for a long time to come.

Our coal mining sector is an export industry and the number of coal-fired generators being built in Asia tells us that we will be sending our thermal coal there for decades to come.  This is also true of our metallurgical coal which is so critical to the steel consumption needs of our regional neighbours.

This is also confirmed by the $4.5 billion companies are ready to spend expanding the industry in NSW subject to planning approval.  While every sector in our economy is subject to change, suggestions the coal industry is in transition are plain silly.

That’s not to say we don’t need to continue to build economic diversity in our region.  We do.  We’ve been doing so very successfully over the course of the last 25 years and we will continue to do so.


Monarchists and Republicans alike are rightly paying tribute to Prince Phillip.  Seven decades is a long time to fulfill the role of Consort and the Duke of Edenborough earned an abundance of respect over the period of his tenure. 

Sure, there was the odd gaffe along the way but along with a touch of Australian larrikinism, the Prince’s imperfections made him popular here in Australia. Of course, military service always invites respect too and he served with distinction. Australia has lost a great friend.


It hard not to be critical of the Federal Government’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.  Some issues have been beyond its control including the problems with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but others appeared avoidable.  First and foremost, its failure to provide itself with more product options now looks like a big mistake. More urgency on local production would also have been smart. Further, vague instruction regarding AstraZeneca have left GPs nervous and worried about potential legal liability. 

Our only path to full normality is wide-spread vaccination so let’s hope for some better decision making.