Nationals Senator Matt Canavan. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Renewables the ‘dole bludgers’ of energy world

AN UNLEASHED Matt Canavan has launched a strident defence of a new Collinsville coal-fired power station, describing renewables as the "dole bludgers" of the energy world, firing his first shot from the backbench in the new political battle facing the Morrison Government.

The former resources minister, who has pledged to be constructive and fight for policies that affect regional and rural Australians, today outlines concerns about manufacturing jobs, and why without coal and gas, they could become harder to support.

While Queensland will be his focus, Senator Canavan is also likely to spend political capital on his concerns about the high number of Victorian manufacturing workers at-risk of losing their jobs because of the debate about coal and climate change.

It comes as Senator Canavan is also planning a number of private members' bills to introduce into the Senate, likely to be centred on tax and families.

The former economist stunned colleagues last week when he quit Cabinet to support the leadership ambition of his former boss, Barnaby Joyce, who Senator Canavan believes can best fight for the bush.

Nationals Senator Matt Canavan. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Privately, some Cabinet colleagues have expressed concerns about how damaging Senator Canavan could be on the backbench, given his work ethic, intellect, cut-though and willingness to pick fights on substance.

The Courier-Mail revealed last year that Senator Canavan had a heated and expletive-laden exchange about supporting a new coal-fired power station in Collinsville, which has now received Federal Government funding for a feasibility study.

Writing in today's Courier-Mail, Senator Canavan says, without reliable energy, manufacturing jobs were at risk, plus a new coal-fired generator would help Central Queensland.

"North Queensland does not have a power station," he said.

"North of Rockhampton there is no power station the can remain on for 24 hours a day.

"Renewable energy can complement our energy needs but renewables do not run all the time making them unsuitable to support manufacturing jobs.

"Renewables are the dole bludgers of the energy system, they only turn up to work when they want to."