Last Thursday the Prime Minister fired the starter's gun on the five-week long federal election campaign. Let's hope the public debate focuses on the important things; health, education, cost of living, jobs, job security and a fair go for all.
I'd like the National Disability Scheme and aged care to figure prominently too. The NDIS is letting people with disability and their families down and our aged care system is not sufficiently delivering for all those who need quality aged care.
Whichever party wins the election, if re-elected, more growth and further diversity in our economy will continue to be a priority for me. A diverse economy delivers more career choice and buffers us against down-turns in individual industries. Done properly, it also helps to modernise our economy and create higher paid work for more people. Of course to make this work, our young people need access to the best learning opportunities. Continually improving our education and training systems should always be a priority.
We've been fortunate to have the coal mining industry underpin our economy for many decades and it will do so for decades to come. It has delivered jobs and wealth.
Our coal generators are coming to the end of their economic and physical lives. Liddell will close in 2022 and Bayswater and Eraring won't last more than 15 years. There is little chance investors will build new coal-fired power stations - but that won't affect our coal industry because its customers in the markets of Asia will continue to buy our relatively clean and efficient coal.
But we are working hard to ensure that as coal-fired generation retire, we remain home to the bulk of the State'power generation. For example, AGL is well advanced in its planning for new and clean generation capability including large scale solar and battery storage on its Liddell/Bayswater buffer zone and pumped-hydro near-by. The land is there, the transmission lines are there and we have the skilled workforce.
Already my office has been flooded with questions about voting arrangements, particularly those who will be travelling on election day. The good news is that pre-poll centres will be open for the three weeks leading up to May 18, so there will be plenty of opportunity to vote early. For others, postal voting will be available, so too will absentee voting on election day.