The Coal Council calls on Labor to reverse many of its climate policies after strong election swings against it.
Australia’s coal industry is lobbying the Coalition to build new coal-fired power stations and weaken approvals processes for new mines.
The coal industry has begun lobbying the re-elected Morrison government to support hardline positions, including building new coal-fired power stations and weakening approvals processes for new mines. The Coal Council of Australia released a statement on Sunday welcoming the election result, praising the Coalition for supporting coal, and calling on Labor to reverse many of its climate-focused policies towards the fossil fuel.
“While elections are about an array of issues, it is important to note in coal-related electorates in both NSW and Queensland, Labor members and candidates recorded strong swings against them,” the CCA chief executive, Greg Evans, said. In the three electorates home to most of Australia’s large coalmines – Dawson and Capricornia in Queensland and Hunter in NSW – voters delivered double-digit swings to the government. The coal council is a hardline industry group, established earlier this year amid a split among members of the Minerals Council of Australia about climate policy. The group is opposed to “transition” policies designed to assist miners and coal communities to weather a predicted slowdown in coal exports; instead clinging to the most optimistic projections that also assume the world fails dramatically to meet its Paris climate targets.
Evans called on Labor to abandon its transition policy for coal workers, and to instead back the Adani coal project and coal-fired power. “Suggestions that coal workers are second-class citizens has rightly been viewed as insulting,” he said. “Strong coal demand over the next decade dictates that cumbersome and lengthy processes should not unnecessarily delay approvals for new coal mine developments and expansions. This can be achieved without compromising already stringent environmental regulations.
“As the new federal government considers opportunities to lower electricity costs, it should encourage proposals for new build [high energy, low emissions] coal plants which offer the cheapest and cleanest energy for Australian households and businesses.”
Despite the election result, coal will likely remain a vexing issue where policies designed to win regional votes could also cost support in inner-city electorates. Research by the Queensland Resources Council, leaked to the Australia Institute in the days before the election, shows the sector is “nearing crisis” and that coal has created a negative perception.
Queensland Labor sources acknowledged Adani was likely decisive in Herbert, Dawson and Capricornia. But they cautioned against being sucked into the larger narrative, being pushed by supporters of coal, that Adani was an underlying cause for the party’s poor result across Queensland. In particular, they pointed to swings away from Labor in Brisbane electorates that had typically supported climate-friendly policies.