Canberra Report - Local Projects Delivered - Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Canberra Report - Local Projects Delivered - Wednesday, 21 April 2021 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

21 April 2021

It was a pleasure to be part of the official opening on Cessnock’s Bridges Hill Park last Wednesday.  All three levels of government made financial contributions to the project, but the bulk of the praise goes to Cessnock Council and its staff.

The pride the outdoor staff have in their work is great to see and they are right to be proud. There is no better park in the Hunter Region and it’s a facility of a standard our community deserves.

I’ve heard some residents querying the name “Bridges Hill”, arguing that the area should rightly be described as Convent Hill.  Both are correct, it’s a big hill. I’m just old enough to remember the Catholic School which overlooked the Vincent Street side of the hill. The land on which the park is now located was originally owned by Mr Arthur Bridge (1879-1957), who later became a shopkeeper in Vincent Street. The Park is situated on part of the Bridges Hill workings of the Aberdare Extended Colliery.

I was also pleased to be part of the official opening of the new Paynes Crossing Bridge on Monday. The project is another joint funding effort by our three levels of government and a long overdue one. Well done to both Cessnock and Singleton Councils.

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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 up-grade 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.

 

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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 GP’s 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.