The CEO of the Minerals Council of NSW, Stephen Galilee, doesn't seem keen for the Hunter to diversify its economy and prepare for the opportunities and challenges that will come as the countries we sell coal to switch their economies towards renewable energy. Read Daniel McLaughlin's opinion piece in the Newcastle Herald here
The Hunter needs to gear up for a renewable future, the author says.
There's been a fair amount of speculation in the aftermath of the federal election about how the regions are represented politically, and how we are let down. The Hunter is let down by city-based mining executives and politicians who use our region to score political points while failing to help us prepare and renew our economies so that we are resilient against downturns in coal mining.
Five years ago, a few thousand people in our region were laid off by mining companies when coal prices dropped. It wasn't just miners affected, but small and medium businesses, our towns, our communities.
Mining coal is becoming more uncertain as other countries switch towards renewables.
All we ask for is a safety net, so our communities do not suffer when mining companies decide to cut and run, for whatever reason.
We've heard from people from coal mining communities in Australia and around the world talking about how the decline of mining has affected them. Their message to us has been clear: there is nothing to fear from diversifying your economy and creating new jobs in different industries.
Regardless of what happens with coal, if you prepare now you will emerge more prosperous, and more diverse, with higher regional employment.
They warned that mining companies are the last to admit that change is coming and that we must not wait for permission, but to start making our own plan to diversify the Hunter and create more and lasting jobs.
We're lucky in the Hunter. We have a port, rail and electricity infrastructure, manufacturing know-how, a reliable river, rich soils and a big population of people who love the region. We honour our coal mining heritage and are determined to ensure we have more strings to our bow.
The mining lobby in Sydney might be trying to make diversification a dirty word but it won't wash.
We're passionate about our region and are working together respectfully at a local level to start the transformation we need to build a stronger economy.
Our message to Sydney is polite, but firm - we need to follow the road to renewal, to ensure we can weather the storms, whatever comes.
Daniel McLaughlin lives in Ashtonfield and is a supporter of Lock the Gate