Pollies in coal fired power struggle
SWOOPING in to capitalise on Coalition Government uncertainty on whether it was appropriate to use public money to fund the construction of a coal fired power station - the One Nation Party is trumpeting its fossil fuel credentials.
On Saturday the Coalition revealed it was spending $4 million on a business case for Shine Energy's proposed Collinsville generator about 250km south of Townsville.
A divide has since opened up in the Coalition between inner city Liberal MPs under pressure to step up emissions reduction measures and use of renewables and regional Nationals MPs who want to build a $2 billion Collinsville coal fired power station, securing the country's base load power and regional jobs.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said her party remained "unshakeable" in supporting the fossil fuel industry and new coal-fired power stations while the Liberals and Nationals are tearing themselves apart with fragmented views on coal.
Senator Hanson submitted a motion for vote in the Senate that backs the proposed Collinsville power station and recognises the value of new coal-fired power stations in the creation of jobs, increased competition and lower power prices, and reliable power.
"One Nation strongly supports coal-fired power and the reliable and affordable electricity that it generates for Queenslanders, and I urge the Senate to take a stand and recognise the importance of this industry," Senator Hanson said.
"One Nation pledges its strong support to the industry and urges the building of more clean coal-fired power stations; it's a sensible way to generate reliable power that's affordable and supports the state."
Labor's Queensland Senator Murray Watt found himself in agreement with Senator Hanson about the Coalition being in shambles over power.
"Central Queensland is paying a very real price for the ongoing division in the government - higher power prices, higher emissions and missing out on the jobs that cheap, clean, reliable energy is creating," Senator Watt said.
"The reality is the Collinsville project will never happen. The company behind the Collinsville project has said they need a huge taxpayer subsidy to pay for it and the Liberals have already ruled that out.
"The Liberals themselves have confirmed the Federal Government won't be stumping up cash for new coal fired power stations, so this project will never happen.
"It's just another con job from the Nationals."
He said if there were private companies out there thinking it was viable to build a new coal mine or a new power station, that was a decision for them.
"Any new project would obviously have to go through the usual environmental processes before proceeding," he said.
"Labor supports a stable energy policy, that delivers lower power prices, lower emissions and more jobs, not imaginary projects that will never happen.
"The Labor Party will always support coal workers. We're the only party that's opposed the crisis of casualisation and abuse of labour hire that is rife in the industry."
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the construction of a new coal-fired power generator in North Queensland was as likely as someone seeing a unicorn, adamant that the project did not stack up and would not proceed because private operators would not "touch a new coal-fired power plant with a barge pole".
Former Resources Minister Matt Canavan seized on Mr Albanese's comments, highlighting Labor's continued problems answering questions about the future of coal.
"Unicorns sounds like a good description of a Labor voter in a North Queensland mining town, they're imaginary," Senator Canavan said.
"Hundreds of new, clean coal fired power stations are being built around the world powered by our coal. Why can't we build one here."
Ms Landry reaffirmed her strong support for coal industry and for a coal fired power station saying the people of CQ trusted her plan to save long-term and sustainable coal jobs.
"I support the opening of a coal fired power station if it ticks all of the regulatory boxes required for it to go ahead, if it is economically feasible and if it will create long-term and sustainable jobs for people in regional areas," she said.
"I also firmly support Shine Energy's HELE coal project in Collinsville.
She said the government was still assessing the feasibility of spending $2 billion to underwrite the construction of the power station.
"The Government has been clear - the projects will need to stack up and make commercial sense to get private sector investment and necessary state government approvals," she said.
"We won't stand in the way of a private company that wants to build a new power station."
She said the Collinsville project would ensure an economic pathway to deliver prosperity and improved social outcomes for the Birri people.
"The enlightened souls in the Labor Party and the Greens Party should support Shine Energy as the Australian Birri Traditional Owners and their goal in creating economic self-determination from this project," Ms Landry said.
She said the government's approach was technology neutral and focused on delivering affordable, reliable power for Australian families and small businesses.
"The Coalition Government is supporting new electricity generation projects in north and Central Queensland that will drive down power prices, improve reliability and support a stronger economy," she said.
"That means ensuring a reliable, balanced mix of generation in the system, which for many years to come will include coal, gas and a growing share of renewables."
"We also recognise we need to take action on climate change and we are taking action.
"Our 2030 target is set, and we intend to meet it and we intend to beat it, and the latest emissions projections show we are on track to do this.
"We have a balanced and responsible emissions reduction plan to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.
"We took that plan to the Australian people at the last election and the Australian people backed that plan.
"And we will do this consistent with the commitment we gave to the Australian people without a carbon tax that will slow our economy and without driving up electricity prices."
She had a dig at "Each-Way" Albo's comment about being more likely to see a unicorn than see Shine Energy's proposed coal project in Collinsville get up and running.
"Jobs in the resources industry are not some fanciful mythical creature - they are real," she said.
"Labor haven't learned a single damn thing since the last election. They will sell out your job for Greens preferences in the inner-city every time.
She said Labor would "have a lot of trouble" in predominantly mining electorates because people there "do not trust them with their jobs".
Senator Canavan said he was an "unashamed supporter of the great Australian coal industry" and wanted to see the opening of new mines and new coal fired power stations.
"The Government has committed to fund a business case of a coal fired power station at Collinsville in North Queensland," Senator Canavan said.
"Let's wait and see what that says before leaping to positions on underwriting.
"However, the government does have an underwriting scheme for new power projects and coal projects are eligible under that.
"More power supply would bring power prices down. I back the expansion of our gas industry but we are going to need coal fired power for many years to come as well."