The slump in the resources sector continues to take its toll on the Australian economy, with the state of New South Wales recently announcing the loss of nearly 1,500 mining jobs in the past year alone.
Energy and Resources Minister Chris Hartcher revealed that a total of 1,467 jobs in the sector have been cut - primarily amongst contractors and suppliers - during heated questioning at a budget estimates hearing last week.
During a grilling by Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham on the precise scale of mining job losses in the state, Hartcher was at a loss to respond until an adviser passed him a written note detailing the precise figure.
"Within a hundred, do you know?" Buckingham asked. "You don't know how many job losses as a result of the downturn in the coal sector?"
The Minister fired back that the Greens and Labor would have an even more disastrous impact on the New South Wales resources sector if elected to office.
"Look, it'll be 100 per cent job losses if you and Labor ever get into power again," he said.
Hartcher also defended the performance of the NSW Government in its efforts to support the local mining industry, pointing out that the state can only have at best a limited impact on adverse market circumstances, while also pointing out that the sector remains primarily in private hands which operate independently of government.
"We're determined to maintain the mining industry in the state," he said. "But decisions of individual companies of course are made by them and the Government's only aware of them once they're announced."
"It's not, as far as I'm aware, easy for the Government to actually access future information because it depends very much on investment policies, it depends very much on commodity prices."