Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan has called on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to join the Turnbull-Joyce Coalition in prioritising affordable and reliable electricity - including via coal-fired power stations - to secure regional jobs.
Minister Canavan said the human cost of a volatile electricity market was clear with the announcement from the Boyne Island aluminium smelter that production would be cut and jobs lost as a result of the inability to access affordable electricity.
“It’s heartbreaking that a significant number of jobs will be lost at the Boyne Island Smelter. All job losses have a ripple effect on families and communities, and even though I know Gladstone is a resilient town, the times ahead will be tough,” Minister Canavan said.
“We want to ensure that regions like Gladstone are strong and vibrant with good long-term job prospects.
“But the simple truth is that the industries that create jobs in our regions need affordable and reliable electricity.
“Australia has the basis for a manufacturing sector and secure long-term jobs. We are one of the world’s largest exporters of coal which fuels advanced power stations in other parts of the world. That coal can also power jobs in Queensland.
“The warning signs can’t be ignored any longer. The Boyne Island Smelter was cutting production as far back as January due to huge spikes in the wholesale price of electricity.
“To keep our manufacturing and industry jobs in the regions we must prioritise affordable and reliable power. That means coal-fired power has a very important role to play in keeping the lights on and industry moving.
“I’m calling on the Palasazczuk Government to rethink its unrealistic 50 per cent renewable energy target and instead support new baseload power stations in Queensland as part of the energy mix.
“We don’t want a repeat of the South Australian experiment, and we don’t want to lose more jobs.
“Australia is blessed with a diverse range of energy options, including gas and renewables, but we can’t flick the switch on coal. Queensland jobs depend on it.”