When is a miner not a miner? For Labor's Upper Hunter byelection candidate Jeff Drayton it's all about the industry he works in rather than the actual job he does.
Mr Drayton worked as a miner at Mt Arthur for a decade before becoming a CFMEU mining official about 10 years ago.
While he may not have been on the tools for some time he still describes himself as a "coal miner" on his Facebook page.
He has also leveraged his former mineworker credentials to promote Labor's mining-related policies.
But coal miner and former One Nation candidate Stuart Bonds has challenged Mr Drayton's right to call himself a miner.
"There's a massive difference (between being a miner and a union official)," Mr Bonds said.
"Jeff may have mined coal before the iPhone hit the shelves but he doesn't now."
Mr Drayton has come under fire for his role in striking a union deal with a labour hire company in 2017 that removed a prohibition on a casual workforce for coal mines.
Mr Drayton said while the exploitation of casual workers was disgraceful, it was not illegal. He added enterprise bargaining had been unable fix the problem.
Labor announced last week that it would seek to introduce legislation to ensure at least 80 per cent of mineworkers were employed on a full-time basis.
Mining bosses would also face jail time if they breached a new industrial manslaughter offence.
Mr Drayton said he was proud of his 20 year career fighting for mineworkers.
"My only regret is that I didn't run for parliament sooner so I could change the laws to lift the wages and conditions for workers in the coal mining industry," he said.
"My opponents have been running a smear campaign against me from the day I announced. I'm not going to engage with that. I'm focussed on fighting for our share in the Upper Hunter."
But Mr Bonds, who has endorsed Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Sue Gilroy in the byelection, said workers' conditions had been compromised as a result of union deals.
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"The reality is if you look at the bottom of most enterprise agreements for labour hire companies you will see a union official's signature. How is this possible?," he said.
"Why weren't these agreements put into dispute with the Fair Work Commission and cut off at the knees by the union?
"How can the Labor party and the union come out and oppose this form of employment when they have been directly involved in the bargaining process and getting these agreements past the Fair Work Commission?"
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