A lump of coal for this two-faced minister

December 20, 2018

New South Wales Energy Minister Don Harwin (pictured), who yesterday attacked Scott Morrison’s energy policy and is lobbying for more renewables and emissions cuts, invited the state’s biggest coalminers to a $990-a-head Liberal Party fundraising dinner last month.

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi supports the use of coal to generate power and opposes the payment of any renewable subsidies.

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The Australian reports, Mr Harwin invited Glencore, Malabar Coal, Centennial Coal, Alinta Energy, Bengalla, Whitehaven and AGL to a dinner at plush Sydney restaurant Lucio’s.

The November 29 function was to celebrate Mr Harwin’s 20th anniversary of his election to the NSW parliament and featured special guest, NSW Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian and nine frontbench colleagues.

Mr Harwin, who yesterday failed to secure Council of Australian Governments agreement for a road map to net zero emissions by 2050, wrote in the Hunter Valley based At The Coal Face magazine about his support of coal miners.

“As a state, we are entering the new year with a strong outlook for the industry and positive resolution for our miners, thankful for their commitment in keeping the Christmas lights on and the beers chilled this holiday season — a tradition NSW frankly cannot ­afford to lose,” Mr Harwin wrote.

The NSW Minerals Council lashed his plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 because it would likely cause a “recession”.

It also said time was running out in NSW to plan for the replacement of lost generation ­capacity arising from the closure of the Liddell coal-fired power station in 2022 — an outcome that could force NSW to become reliant on interconnectors feeding intermittent renewable power from Queensland and Victoria.

An independent analysis of the NSW government’s net zero emissions target conducted by the University of Queensland’s Energy Initiative described it as “an exercise in heroic futility” because it would have no measurable impact on the global climate. The analysis also warned there was no guarantee international emitters would follow NSW’s example and could weigh down the state’s economy with significant costs.

To read Geoff Chambers and Joe Kelly's full story, click here.

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