The breathtaking expediency of politicians and aspirants in the race for the seat of the Upper Hunter has been something to behold.
We've seen politicians of different stripes declare convenient support for coal in recent weeks as they contend for the mine-heavy seat left vacant by Michael Johnsen.
As has been widely reported, Mr Johnsen was unceremoniously brought down by a rape allegation he has vehemently denied.
Voters, no doubt, are well aware they shouldn't believe everything the party leaders and their candidates say, as promises are often made to help win the fight of the day. Survival for the chameleon-like political animal can demand such a stance.
This came to mind as news dropped that the NSW government will provide $25 million a year for coal mining communities to help create new jobs, as the energy sector continues to change.
The Royalties for Rejuvenation program will contribute this money into a future fund for the exclusive use of coal mining areas.
The creation of this fund makes absolute sense. However, the initial figure is a drop in the ocean compared to what's needed.
The Hunter region alone will need an energy transition package that runs into the billions. In this context, the promise of $25 million a year to be shared between coal mining communities won't be enough. The federal government, among others, will be required to commit considerable sums.
Rather than being part of a shared fund, perhaps the Hunter's coal communities should have their own fund. Shared funds can open themselves to pork barrelling.
Federal and state governments will need to heavily invest in retraining for displaced workers and infrastructure for new industries in areas like engineering, business, technology, agriculture and education.
In announcing the Royalties for Rejuvenation program, NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro said: "Coal is here for decades but if we aren't planning for the future we get left behind". Even if true, it shouldn't take decades for government investment to start flowing into the Hunter to support the energy transition.
The Hunter must not allow itself to be shortchanged on a tailored transition fund when its future depends on it. Governments should be sharply focused on this issue. Our economic health depends on it.