Research reveals 'transition' and 'just transition' are toxic terms for Hunter mining communities

To many in the Hunter, "transition" or "just transition" is a shorthand term for you are going to lose your job.  The phrases, initially developed by the trade union movement in North America to describe interventions to secure workers rights and livelihoods when economies shift from extractive reliant to renewables, are now dirty words.

LEADERSHIP: Singleton mayor Sue Moore said it was better to talk about economic evolution than transition in the Upper Hunter due to residents' concerns about their jobs. Picture: Simone De Peak

New research has found Australian politicians, exploiting coal mining communities' fears about their future, have tainted the phrases so they are "toxic".

Coal communities, like the Upper Hunter, view transition as something being imposed on them by people in cities.

Dr Gareth Edwards, Associate Professor in Geography and Development, from Britain's University of East Anglia, teamed with Dr Robert McNeil and Professor Susan Park, both from the University of Sydney, to look at a just transition away from coal in Australia.

The researchers said the most significant finding was how regional communities, including the Hunter Valley, view the terminologies.

Dr Edwards said political rhetoric had "poisoned the chalice" of talking about transition and people working or living in coal mining communities associate the terms with the idea of people from cities trying to close down the industry they rely on.

He said internationally it was "fairly well accepted" if countries are transitioning energy systems, workers and communities reliant on coal should be looked after.

Read the full story published in the Newcastle Herald 7th May 2022