North Queensland needs a coal-fired power station, writes Senator Matt Canavan.
North Queensland needs a coal-fired power station, writes Senator Matt Canavan.

Time to fire up support for new coal-fired power station

THERE is a myth that Australia can't make things anymore.

It is true that we have lost our car industry and almost all our clothes are stamped with "Made in China".

But we retain lots of manufacturing jobs in making metals even if food and we have a challenge to keep them.

Australia is blessed with abundant natural resources.

Our vast landscape produces some of the freshest, natural produce in the world.

Much of that food is processed in Australia providing jobs in cotton gins, sugar mills and tinning factories.

Likewise, to create a metal like aluminium you basically need two things: bauxite and a cheap energy source. In Queensland's case that energy source is coal.

We combine Queensland's coal and Queensland's minerals (like bauxite, copper, zinc and nickel) to create higher value products that we sell to the world.

A ton of bauxite is worth $43 a tonne.

If we process it through to aluminium we make 60 times more at $2600 a tonne.

More importantly, that value adding creates thousands of jobs.

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

Over 160,000 Queenslanders have jobs in manufacturing and these jobs pay a good wage. A factory worker earns 8 per cent more than the average wage.

We won't be able to offer those wages to young Queenslanders who want to work though, if we ship our coal overseas and don't use it ourselves.

That is why the Liberal National Government is supporting the development of a coal fired power station at Collinsville in North Queensland. A recent study shows that a Collinsville power station would help North and Central Queensland meet its power needs.

North Queensland does not have a power station. North of Rockhampton there is no power station that can remain on 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.

It costs a lot of money to transport electricity from southern Queensland all the way up to Townsville to support copper refining jobs there. That is why every recent study into a North Queensland coal fired power station shows that it would make sense.

North Queensland needs a coal-fired power station, writes Senator Matt Canavan.
North Queensland needs a coal-fired power station, writes Senator Matt Canavan.

In 2013, GHD found (in a report commissioned by Wayne Swan) that a Collinsville coal fired power station would "put strong downward pressure on on electricity prices."

And, in 2017, a report for the Queensland Labor Government's Energy Department found that such a power station would be profitable.

The Labor party provides only lukewarm support the export of Queensland coal, but they definitely don't support using Queensland coal in power stations to support Queensland jobs.

It is an absurd position. Under Labor's approach we would ship our coal to other countries for them to create jobs in their country with our resource.

Under Labor, Australia's big exports would be coal, gas, iron ore and our own jobs.

I think we should keep Australian jobs here.

The LNP stood up for mining jobs last year through the Adani debate and we were rewarded with the support of the Queensland people. The LNP has become the natural party of the worker.

I back mining, I back power stations and I back factory jobs. I back not just the mining of our our natural resources but the use of them too to create good paying Queensland factory jobs. More coal fired powers stations will keep our jobs here. By doing that we will support not just fluro collar jobs but more blue collar jobs too.

LNP Senator Canavan is the former Minister for Resources and Northern Australia