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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11779

Mr TREVOR (9:53 PM) —Tonight I want to bring to the attention of the House the substantial community concerns that are being expressed by members of the coal community of Blackwater in my electorate of Flynn. I am a proud supporter of the coal industry. The coal industry provides and supports thousands of direct and indirect jobs for people in my community of Flynn. These people are not only my constituents; many of them are my personal friends. They are people I went to school with, played football with and shared a beer with—some, to this day. My family has lengthy experience with coal—some good and some bad. My late father, Allan Foo Trevor, carted coal from Moura and Blackwater for over 20 years, as a train driver for Queensland Rail, with firemen Matty Smith, Nev Radel, Alan Bosel and Kerry Brodie by his side.

My mother-in-law, Judy Martin, now Judy St Leger, was married to the late Harold ‘Mick’ Martin. Mick and Judy moved to Moura, in Flynn, in 1960 with their five daughters. Mick, as a mineworker, carted one of the first loads of overburden from Moura mine. The coal company provided no accommodation, so the family of seven lived in a tent. After about 12 months the family of seven moved into a one-room hut with a lean-to. They drank dirty water and used a pit as a toilet. Finally, Judy, with the assistance of the CFMEU—she thinks it was—and pregnant with her seventh daughter, appeared before Judge Gallagher. Judy recalls that she was perhaps the first woman to appear before the Arbitration Court of Queensland. She argued for the mine owners to provide proper accommodation for their workers. She won, and the first homes for mineworkers in Moura, in my electorate of Flynn, were ordered to be built.

It is with a great touch of irony and certainly some sadness that, some 40 years on, I stand here in the federal parliament and plead again with the coal companies, this time at Blackwater, to provide better accommodation for their workers and to leave a better community footprint on Blackwater. Hundreds and hundreds of good men and women, as I have recently observed, are being forced to live like battery hens in dongas in the middle of the town of Blackwater. It is desolate and parched. There is no landscaping. They have no family life. They work 12-hour shifts and they have a long drive home. Some make it and some do not. The parks of Blackwater need fixing. Affordable housing needs to be made available. The state government needs to free up some land immediately. Community infrastructure needs to be put in place for the boom times ahead, and the coal companies concerned need to address proper housing requirements by way of long-term vision, not short-term profit. The community and workers of Blackwater deserve nothing less. All they want is a fair go. With the coal industry set to boom and thousands of new jobs to be created in the electorate of Flynn, Blackwater and its residents are crying out for help. The time for action from all parties is now. I thank concerned residents for bringing this matter to my attention. I also thank the Queensland state MP Vaughan Johnson for standing up for his community. I do hope someone listens. It is the right and proper thing to do.

Before I close, I want to send a clear message to all the mineworkers of Flynn: please do not be fooled by the ‘Let’s cut emissions, not jobs’ scare campaign being run by the Australian Coal Association in my electorate. Our economy is good, our democracy is strong and many announcements have been made over recent months regarding new mines to be opened and others to be expanded, in Flynn alone. Thousands of new jobs will not be lost; thousands of new jobs will be created. I am deeply, deeply disappointed that the coal industry has sought to use its power, influence and money to publicly scare the wits out of our workers, including the mums and dads of my community of Flynn and the people I have grown up with.

Question agreed to.