Former foreign minister and NSW Premier Bob Carr spoke all about the Hunter during a visit to Kurri on Friday.
The longest continuously serving Premier of the state addressed about 40 people at a morning tea at the Kurri Anglican Church Hall.
Mr Carr was already in the area after the a trip to Maitland Library about his book Diary of a Foreign Minister.
So he contacted Cessnock MP Clayton Barr about organising the event, as Mr Carr said he has “a lot of respect for the local MPs” in the Hunter.
Mr Carr spoke about his present work as director of the Australia China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney.
He said China’s middle class would grow by about 850 million people by 2030 and that the Hunter had a role to play in servicing that growth.
Mr Carr said he expected services, food, wine, coal and hosting students and tourists were the industries he expected would cater for that in the Hunter.
But Mr Carr did say that Hunter coal would become lesser of a provider to China.
“China’s still out biggest [coal] market, but we’ve got to plan for when that’s not the case,” he said.
Mr Carr said one of his main missions when he first became NSW opposition leader in 1988 was to win back the Hunter.
He spent a considerable amount of time trying to do that.
“This is my old hunting ground,” he said.
“I’ve spent a lot of time here.
“I virtually lived here when I was opposition leader. It’s lovely to be back.
The former senator also took questions from the floor, which covered topics such as protecting Aboriginal sites, greyhound racing, the way the state was going and threats to National Parks.
Cessnock MP Clayton Barr said it was great to have Mr Carr in the area and the morning tea was a fantastic opportunity for locals to engage with him on a personal level.
“It was pretty wonderful to have someone of his knowledge and expertise in the local community,” he said.
“He was talking directly with the people. More former politicians should make themselves available to do that.”
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