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The pro-coal cosplay taking place in NSW's Upper Hunter by-election is as shameless as it is disingenuous.

Politicians and the usual media pundits have been falling all over each other to love coal the most, meaning residents of the traditional coal area are receiving a less-than-honest preparation for the transition ahead.

This week we're fired up about;

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Belinda Noble
In the seat of Upper Hunter, just over three hours north of Sydney, the truth about the dire economic future of coal and coal’s contribution to climate change are not merely ignored - mentioning those facts are twisted into a betrayal of working-class values and entire communities. 

The ruling coalition’s National Party have never lost the seat but they’re barely holding on, and if they do lose, the coalition’s majority in parliament goes too. Unfortunately, the reason for the by-election is that the sitting member was accused of rape and sexting a prostitute from the floor of parliament. Not a great start.

So, the desperate government decided to spin constituents with some simple lies. 

The State Treasurer helped announce the National Party candidate for the seat at an open cut coal mine and wrote, “the death of coal has been greatly exaggerated” claiming only extremists would suggest otherwise.

And the State National’s Leader, Deputy Premier, John Barilaro went further, declaring, “Coal mining will be part of this landscape today and forever,” adding a bizarre, emotional ode to a coal train on Twitter.

Not to be out done, the opposition Labor Party selected an actual coal miner as its candidate. Jeff Drayton proclaimed, "Every time I open the newspaper or every time I turn the TV on I see somebody having a go at coal miners and that has to stop."

And the Labor party leader supported more coal mines saying, “Our coal is clean, it’s efficient, and where there’s a market for it, we should be selling.”

It has been great fodder for Sky News, with Chris Smith broadcasting his show from inside a NSW thermal coal mine, saying the "coal-a-phobes" have got everything wrong, because the "alternative" to our coal is "much worse for the environment."

And lobby group, NSW Mining, also got in on the action, with a media release about the Sky story, featuring Chris Smith with pro-coal politicians, John Barilaro and local Federal MP, Joel Fitzgibbon.

As revealed on Twitter, the cash-strapped Sky News picked up the tab for the Hunter MP's hospitality. 

John Barilaro contradicted himself in an introduction to a 2020 NSW coal strategy document saying "coal is likely to have a finite lifespan as an energy source."

Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet has been contradicted by a Treasury document that found “Global coal demand is projected to decline over the next 40 years."

IEEFA reports that NSW coal output will fall 28% by 2025 from 2018 levels,  and coal station closures are imminent.

Meanwhile, councils in the Hunter coal region are betting on a renewable future.

And the region is full of innovators wanting to harness renewables and maybe hoping for a bit more government support.
Support Climate Journalism
This Earth Day, enjoy the new brand campaign from Ampol, that aims to make us feel an emotional connection to petrol.

As reported in Mumbrella the campaign intends to showcase "how Ampol is a part of the fabric of Australian life, with fuel that connects the nation".

The campaign will be seen on The Project, morning TV, Fox Sports, Nova, Spotify, Snapchat and News Corp.

It's a similar emotion-based strategy as the one used by Shell I wrote about last newsletter.

Working on this campaign has put Saatchi & Saatchi, Houston Group, and iProspect on our Polluter Relations list.

Before he was CEO of the oil and gas lobbyist, APPEA, Andrew McConville was a global head of external affairs and communication for agricultural giant, Syngenta.

It's a comms background he has been putting to good use at The Australian.

The newspaper has run quotes from McConville in more than 10 stories this year.

McConville has also had five opinion articles published in the paper in the past 12 months, two were paid for and the other three were for free. But the themes were mostly the same, as you can tell from the titles;
  • Oil and gas industry is crucial to recovery, but it needs investment
  • More supply the answer to keep gas prices competitive
  • Investment crucial in nation-building sectors
  • Let’s consider all facts in emissions debate
  • Natural gas has power to turbocharge economy
It's hard to tell why he pays for ads at all when the Australian keeps running the same messages for nothing, but it never hurts to grease the wheels...

Federal Opposition Spokesperson for Resources, Madeleine King has only been quoted in two Australian stories in that capacity this year.

1. Australian Conservation Foundation take a bow for this GIF 

2. Four Corners for it's 'Fired Up' story on the fantasy that is the 'gas fired recovery' (Great name BTW)

3. Wieden +Kennedy for their macho take on plant-based beef for Impossible Foods

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