Mining needs to bear fruit for NSW

HOGSBACK hopes recently appointed New South Wales deputy premier and Nationals party leader Paul Toole does not upset the apple cart when it comes to coal mining in the state.
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Newly appointed deputy premier Paul Toole also has a deep understanding of the needs of mining communities.

We know he has a track record for protecting his farming friends in his seat of Bathurst - which incidentally is the home to several apple orchards.

The focus will be on whether Toole has the necessary political and communication skills to convince the powerful rural lobby that it is in the interest of the state to promote the development of coal mining projects and the potential expansion of existing mines.

The NSW treasury is desperate for coin and mining royalties are literally rivers of gold.

The Budget Update indicates NSW Treasury expects mining royalties to remain at high levels for the 2022-23 budget year with a forecast of more than $2.2 billion.

This will follow forecast royalties of a record $2.8 billion for the state in 2021-22, well up from the original forecasted $1.6 billion, and double the $1.4 billion collected in the last budget.

However, the Treasury has its back to the wall after shelling out generous subsidies to businesses during the pandemic to kickstart the economy. 

Newly-installed premier Dominic Perrottet - who was formerly treasurer - decided to lift most COVID-19 restrictions after he was appointed late last year because he knew how dire the fiscal situation in the state could get.

The NSW government must now focus on harnessing all the economic growth in the state to crawl out of the pandemic - which unexpectedly took a turn for the worse with the Omicron variant in the past two months.

Toole has been tasked with ensuring that NSW's primary industries - including the state's major export of coal - are contributing to this turnaround and that harmony is restored in the bush.     

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said Toole had a strong track record of standing up for regional NSW and a sound appreciation of the important contribution of the mining sector.

"He also has a deep understanding of the needs of mining communities, including in his own electorate," he said.

"The next 12 months will be a critical time for the NSW mining sector and for regional NSW."

Given that there will be three by-elections in NSW this year and there is a possibility of yet more COVID variants that could further disrupt the economy, Toole will need to be very active in the regions talking up the benefits of having a healthy mining industry.