Labor's policy will not impact the coal industry

15 December 2021


Published in Cessnock Advertiser 15 December 2021

The scaremongering about Labor's energy and climate policy is in full swing, so I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

Labor's policy, Powering Australia, will not affect coal mining or coal-fired power generation.

Despite what our political opponents say, that is a statement of fact.

There will continue to be a future for the coal industry here in Australia for as long as there is international demand for what we produce.

I always have and always will stand up for coal mining jobs and communities.

People who know me know that.

However, we know that the international outlook for coal is becoming more challenging.

Even the Morrison Government is projecting that demand for coal will decline more than 50 per cent by 2050.

Labor will continue to support the coal industry and the workers who depend on it for as long as that demand is there.

But we will not pretend that demand is not declining. We will not lie to coal miners and communities who depend on those jobs.

It is also important to note that our policy does not change any plans for existing coal-fired power stations.

But ageing power stations are coming to the end of their life, and there has not been a new coal-fired power station built in Australia since 2009.

Given how cheap renewable energy generation has become since then, I can't see that changing.

In terms of approvals of coal mines that are currently under consideration, such as in the Galilee Basin, Labor will continue to back any project that is commercial and meets environmental and regulatory approvals.

So, let's be clear, Labor is not shutting down coal mining or coal-fired power stations.

We expected a scare campaign because that's all the Morrison Government has.

All states and territories in Australia understand the imperative both of net zero by 2050 and taking action to get us there.

Australian business, including the Business Council of Australia and the AiGroup, have called for the sorts of initiatives in in our policy to give business the certainty they need to invest.

Powering Australia will be backed by a government investment of $24 billion, most of which will be on commercial terms and have no impact on the budget.

Our investment will be in upgrading the electricity grid through the $20 billion Rewriting the Nation policy, and up to $3 billion in investment from the National Reconstruction Fund in new energy industries and emissions reduction technology.

The total cost to the budget over the forward estimates is less than $700 million.

And for that investment:

  • An extra 604,000 jobs will be created over the coming decade - five out of six will be in the regions.
  • $76 billion of new public and private investment will be made into Australian industries.
  • Household power bills will be reduced by $275 in 2025 and $378 in 2030.

Our policy will set Australia on a credible and achievable path to net zero by 2050, and one which will unlock new investment and create jobs, particularly in regions such as our own.

It will reduce Australia's emissions by 43 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, which would become Australia's target under the Paris Agreement.

We didn't pluck this number from thin air. We developed the ambitious but realistic policies and commissioned independent modelling to analyse what those policies would achieve - both for emissions reduction and for the economy.

We've lost three years because of the Morrison Government's failure to act on climate change and failure to be honest with communities such as ours.

Let's not lose any more.