The Turnbull cabinet’s strongest advocate for the coal industry, Matt Canavan (pictured), says he does not believe government subsidies are needed to build coal-fired power stations, contradicting calls from Coalition backbenchers.
The Australian newspaper reports, the Monash Forum of Coalition MPs — including Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews, Eric Abetz, Barnaby Joyce, Craig Kelly and George Christensen — has called for the government to spend $4 billion on reopening the closed Hazelwood coal-fired power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.
Australian Conservatives leader Senator Cory Bernardi hit out at the Monash Forum, likening their proposal to the Greens’ calls today for universal basic income and a “People’s Bank”.
“Today the Greens are advocating for the government to provide money to every single Australian with no obligation to work,” Senator Bernardi wrote in his weekly blog.
“This is on top of their thought bubble to force the Reserve Bank of Australia to provide home loans at less than market interest rates. Not to be outdone, a bunch of coalition ‘conservatives’ have started lobbying to have government spend $4 billion and nationalise a coal-fired power station.”
“This is on top of the multi-billion dollar ‘battery’ project they call Snowy 2.0. Another boondoggle that will waste taxpayers’ money,” he said.
“They would do better to stop all government subsidies for energy generation, slash red and green tape and provide contractual and operational certainty for new entrants wanting to build a power station — be it gas, coal, nuclear or renewable,” Senator Bernardi said.
Speaking from his Central Queensland home town of Rockhampton, Resources Minister Senator Canavan said he was a strong backer of the coal industry, but did not support government subsidies.
He told Sky News, “I do think that we’re going to need coal-fired power in Australia for many decades to come. It is powering the nation right now. More than 60 per cent of our power comes from coal-fired power. What I would say though about the particular proposal you asked, is I don’t think coal needs subsidies. It doesn’t need government grants or investment.”
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