December 17, 2020
Well thank goodness 2020 is nearly over. It feels like at least 15 years ago that the reality of the COVID pandemic started to set in, but it was only March.
Like everywhere around the world, the Australian economy has taken a massive hit with many industries shut down or their operations severely curtailed due to lockdowns, border restrictions and social distancing.
Throughout it all, mining and energy workers have continued to work, with our industries essential to keeping Australia going, functionally and economically.
Mining and energy workers have made an incredible contribution this year. Our power stations have kept the lights on and our industries and cities running.
A quick look at the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) fuel mix dashboard shows that black and brown coal still fuel dominate energy supply.
In Queensland and NSW over the past 12 months, over 80% of energy supply has come from black coal – at many points in time it has been up over 90%.
And our coal and iron ore mines have remained fully operational, due to the flexibility and commitment of workers in adapting to new ways of working.
Mining has remained a major regional employer and has continued to pump royalties and taxes into government coffers while cementing its place as by far Australia’s biggest export earner – with education and tourism severely hit.
As Labor’s NSW resources spokesman Paul Scully says in this thankyou message, we really do all have mineworkers to thank for our shared prosperity.
I know that the continued operation of the mining and energy industries has come at a personal cost to many of you.
Throughout the year, you have all faced risk, uncertainty and constantly changing work arrangements. I’m proud of the way our Union responded to the COVID challenge at the National, District and Lodge level, working constructively to keep Members safe and informed while also keeping mines and power stations operational.
But it has been tough. Some of you have been isolated from your families due to border restrictions. Many of you have had family members lose their jobs, been isolated from elderly relatives and seen your kids struggle with the disruption of remote learning.
The global economic disruption from COVID will continue to affect our industries for some time.
I want to acknowledge all of our Members for their perseverance throughout 2020. I hope that you can spend time with friends and loved ones during the festive season and find some time to recharge.
As you know from recent correspondence, 2021 will bring its own challenges and we have some decisions to make about the future of our Mining and Energy Union.
But first, let’s take a moment to reflect on getting through a tough year. Well done everyone. Have a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.