OPINION - Silence deafening on Maitland jobs

For more than a month, Maitland Business Chamber and I have sought to address reports that some 200 workers based in Maitland will be moved to Newcastle after the lease on Minerals House expires on 31 December 2019.

There are approximately 350 workers on this site whose lives are in limbo. Potentially dozens of families may be faced with the prospect of relocation and the associated upheaval; and up to 90 million vital dollars could be stripped from Maitland’s lunchtime economy.

Judy Brown, President of the Maitland Business Chamber, has written to the Premier on behalf of the Chamber and our business community, seeking the Premier’s assurance that no jobs will leave Maitland.

I too have written letters, sent emails and stood on the floor of Parliament asking the Premier and her Ministers to come clean on their plans.

The silence has been deafening. Our Business Chamber has not even been given the courtesy of a reply and I’ve been met with diversions, avoidance and obfuscations at every turn.

Those who work in Minerals House in the Planning, Industry and Environment cluster are left to wonder: who will move to Newcastle? Who will stay in Maitland? And – the real agenda – of those who move to Newcastle, who will have their jobs go on the chopping block?

Just weeks ago in Parliament, the Premier gave an absolute commitment that every regional public sector job would be maintained in its current community, despite her budget which will cut 2,500 public sector jobs in NSW.

Shifting jobs from Maitland to a central hub in the second largest coastal city in NSW could give the Liberals and Nationals Government a sneaky loophole to cut jobs which should stay in our community.

This Government considers Newcastle a metropolitan area in terms of the public service, not rural or regional, and there seems to be nothing preventing this government from wielding the axe on Newcastle-based positions to meet their 2,500 target.

I am concerned that if people from Maitland are relocated to Newcastle, their jobs will be later cut.

I have called on the Premier to guarantee she will keep her word and not use sneaky backdoor tricks to steal jobs from Maitland and ruin our community's economy.

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