Qld’s major parties blasted over lack of support for coal
QUEENSLAND’S minor parties have launched an attack against the Liberal National Party and Labor Parties.
The minor parties have accused them of voting against coal, cheaper electricity, regional jobs and a level playing field for renewable energy.
On the penultimate sitting day of parliament, only five members of Katter’s Australian Party, One Nation and North Queensland First parties voted in favour of a motion which supported the vital role of cheap coal-fired power and committed to the cheapest electricity possible by ceasing renewable power mandates, subsidies and investment programs to ensure coal and renewables compete on a level playing field.
KAP leader Robbie Katter was stunned by the opposition to his motion, especially from the LNP, who told North Queensland they supported coal, but when it came time to nail their colours to the mast in parliament, he said “they squibbed it”.
“They are giving preferences to the Greens in Brisbane-based seats at the upcoming election so it hardly surprises me that they have voted this way. But they can be sure the people of regional and North Queensland will remember that the LNP betrayed them when they walk into the polling booth on October 31,” Mr Katter said.
Rockhampton KAP candidate Christian Shepherd said the major parties wanted to virtue signal with renewables that were not only manufactured by coal, but simply were not the tool for the job.
“At a time when we need affordable, reliable power the major parties have no plan to provide either,” Mr Shepherd said.
“Queensland’s households and industries cannot rebound, recover or prosper if the taxes they pay are squandered on feel-good social campaigns by big city socialites predisposed with flashy ribbon cuttings and superficially soaking up media attention.”
One Nation’s Mirani MP Stephen Andrew condemned the LNP and Labor and accused them of saying one thing in regional Queensland but voting differently in the southeast corner parliament.
“Labor is already planning for the end to all coal mining jobs but now we know where the LNP really stands,” Mr Andrew said.
“(They) talk a big game in regional Queensland about supporting coal and mining jobs but when it came to the crunch last night both the major parties toed the southeast corner line and voted against coal, cheaper power and a level playing field for electricity generators.”
North Queensland First leader Jason Costigan said he supported a “level playing field”, especially when it came to taxpayer support for a new base-load coal-fired power station, given the huge amount of taxpayer money that has gone into renewable energy.
“For the record, tonight’s vote was 85-5. How’s that for telling people that your job in the coal industry is something we don’t value?” Mr Costigan asked.
“Crazy stuff, especially with the resources sector and coal, in particular, keeping the lights on, literally and figuratively, as the economic fallout to COVID-19 continues.”
Members of the LNP and Labor have defended their decision to vote against KAP’s motion.
LNP spokesperson for Energy Michael Hart said more than 600,000 Queenslanders who installed solar panels on their homes with the help of government programs were at risk from the motion.
He said more than 200,000 Queensland families would be at risk of losing access to the solar bonus scheme, suffering a major drop in their feed-in tariff from 44 cents to 6 cents more.
“These Queensland families have spent thousands of dollars of their own money to install solar panels on their roof based on a contact with the government, but now the Katter Australian Party wants to rip up that deal,” Mr Hart said.
“The LNP is not in the business of ripping up contracts that Queensland families and pensioners rely on.
“Households would lose hundreds of dollars each year and that’s the last thing Queenslanders need right now.”
Mr Hart said private companies had also invested billions of dollars in renewable energy projects based on the current policy settings including the Commonwealth Government’s renewable energy target.
“Changing the goalposts would increase sovereign risk putting at risk billions of dollars of investment in Queensland and thousands of jobs,” he said.
In parliament, Queensland Labor MPs expressed their opposition to the motion’s negative impact on those who invested in roof top solar.
Former Energy Minister and current Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the truth was that for many years now coal-fired power has not been the cheapest form of generation.
“Three years ago, the Chief Scientist of this country was very clear on this. Members of the
Katter party might think they know more than the Chief Scientist of Australia,” Mr Bailey said.
“It is ironic that these North Queensland members are railing against renewable energy when they have the best solar resource in the world in North Queensland.
“The costs keep coming down. Solar farms are proliferating in North Queensland like there
is no tomorrow, because it is relentlessly hot with continuous sunshine.”
Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said Queensland had the energy trifecta in: lowest average prices on the eastern seaboard, reliable supply and a planned transition to a renewable future.
“Our fleet of coal-fired generators, some of the youngest in the nation, complement the new investment we have seen in renewables over recent years,” Dr Lynham said.
“As I said in parliament, over the past five years under Labor, 41 large-scale renewable energy projects have launched, representing around $7.8 billion in investment and about 6,500 jobs in construction.
“Queensland now has more than 7,900 megawatts of renewable energy generation capacity, either operational or committed, the equivalent of taking more than two million cars off the road, and Queenslanders are on board.
“Additionally, there are more than 20,000 megawatts of potential large-scale projects are already in the pipeline, offering more than 28,000 potential jobs.”
He said to contrast this with the LNP, who oversaw the development of no large-scale renewable projects while they were in charge and power prices rose by 43 per cent.
“The recent addition of large-scale new capacity is already making a positive contribution to lower electricity prices as noted by the Queensland Competition Authority in its 2019-2020 price determination,” he said.
“Regional Queenslanders are now in their third year of power price reductions. Queensland households have been further supported by our $200 utility rebate and small business has received $500 off their power bills. Over this three-year period, a typical regional small business will have saved, in total, around $1,000 and a typical household, $600.
“Our government has a strong record in supporting and advancing our vital resources sector, but equally, we will continue to back Queensland’s renewable energy revolution because is lowering emissions, putting downward pressure on power prices, and, most importantly in our post-COVID world, supporting jobs and economic recovery.”