Greens Senator Larissa Waters. Picture: Tara Croser.
Greens Senator Larissa Waters. Picture: Tara Croser.

RIN slams Greens’ coal job losses claims

THE Resource Industry Network has hit back at claims by Greens Senator Larissa Waters of fears mining companies would sack workers overnight after seeing the “global writing on the wall”.

Senator Waters made the comment while in the region on Friday as the chair of the Mackay hearing of the Senate Inquiry into Jobs for the Future in Regions.

She said the inquiry was set up by the Greens to let communities have their say on the transitioning to long-term, sustainable jobs as “the world continues to act on climate change by transitioning away from coal”.

“What we’re concerned about is that mining companies will see the global writing on the wall and sack people overnight,” Ms Waters said.

“We really want to plan for that transition. As the world embraces taking action on climate change, the demand for our coal will continue to drop and we want those coal workers to be looked after and transitioned into new industries.”

Senator Waters said there were now 28 renewable energy projects either under way or in the pipeline across the Mackay region.

Resource Industry Network general manager Adrienne Rourke, who was a key witness at Friday’s Senate Inquiry in Mackay, rebuked Senator Waters for her comments.

Ms Rourke said research suggested there was an ongoing demand for both metallurgical and thermal coal into the future.

“I think people in Mackay know what the facts are and know what a sensible discussion is,” she said.

“We’ve seen how people coming here to tell us about our future doesn’t go down too well, particularly when it’s not factual information.

“People in Mackay will give little attention to what she’s saying.”

Ms Rourke said Mackay’s stifling skills shortage was raised during the hearing as one of the main employment challenges faced by the region.

“When looking to new opportunities for workforce attraction, more needs to be done by the government for people who want to live regionally,” she said.

Other witnesses at the Mackay hearing included the Greater Whitsunday Alliance, Mackay Regional Council and Tourism Whitsundays.

The committee is expected to present its final report by December 4, 2019.