I make a short contribution to debate on the Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2022. Like the member for Lake Macquarie, I hope that the $25 million Royalties for Rejuvenation fund goes some way towards providing the assistance needed by the community that I represent, as well as surrounding communities like those of the member for Cessnock, the member for Maitland, the member for Port Stephens and the member for Newcastle. We obviously have very serious concerns about our communities, our coal workers and what the future of coal communities will look like, and the Government has a very big part to play in that regard. As the member for Lake Macquarie said, whilst the bill is a start, a lot more will need to be done. The Government will have to provide significantly more funding and other measures to ensure that the communities and the people that we represent are able to work, live and play in the areas in which they now reside.

Of course, it is not just people with direct mining jobs who will be affected; it is the whole coal chain. There are thousands of direct jobs but there are many thousands more indirect jobs related to the coal industry. We must also take that into account when looking at ensuring that those communities prosper into the future. To do that, we have to look at education, training and skills. To my mind, it is so important that the Government looks at skilling up and training up the jobs that will be needed in our regions going forward. We have seen so many cuts to TAFE NSW. The electorate that I represent includes the Belmont TAFE. The member for Cessnock often raises the importance of education. We have to skill people up so that they have the skills and the training required to get a meaningful, well-paid job and so that workers in our region can live with dignity. That is absolutely critical. I note that the rejuvenation fund will have an expert panel. It is critical to have that level of compliance and a watchdog when dealing with that sort of money and the amount of needs to be addressed. I implore the Minister, who I am pleased to note is in the Chamber, to make sure that the panel is accountable. It must not be an opportunity to put money into some areas for political advantage. That would be completely unfair.

As the member for Lake Macquarie said, he and I live in communities that have been generational energy providers, using coal and fossil fuels. We have longstanding, generational miners and electricity workers in our electorates. They and their families and our community more broadly will need the support necessary to ensure a prosperous future. All members in this place want that to occur, but to do so we must make sure that any funding through the rejuvenation fund is distributed fairly and goes to projects that create jobs, skill people up and create opportunities for the people we represent. If the bill does not come with those measures, then it is not worth the paper it is written on. I can assure the Minister that I will be calling him to account, as will my colleagues. We will be making sure that the money is being spent fairly and in the best interests of the people who are most affected. If it is not, then it is a fraud.

As the member for Maitland said—and she makes a very good point—the reason for there being a level of scepticism is that the Government does have form here. The member quite rightly pointed out that the Government did not include the Hunter as a renewable energy zone when it had the opportunity to do that when planning future energy infrastructure. That beggared belief but, as the member for Maitland said, the Labor Party had to remind the Government that the Hunter area will be one of the most affected areas in the State as we move away from coal. So it is critically necessary for that to happen, and it is great that we achieved it.

On a number of occasions in this Chamber the Treasurer has said that following the invitation for expressions of interest in that renewable energy zone, expressions of interest for $100 billion worth of projects were received. That is significant. If the area had not been in that renewable energy zone, there would have been zero interest. It was critically important. It gives rise to a degree of scepticism that is backed up by fact. As the member for Maitland also said, how could Maitland and Cessnock be left out of the Resources for Regions Fund? They are two key mining areas in the State, yet they were left out. I hope the Minister will address that issue and ensure that he walks the walk and talks the talk by delivering rejuvenation money in the most affected area in the State. I am very concerned about the future of our region and I am mindful of the fact that we need a forensic focus on how the money is spent to ensure that it makes a difference and goes towards creating a prosperous future for the people who we represent in our region.