Transcript: 4CA Cairns – Mornings with John MacKenzie, 30/11/16

Subjects: future of coal fired power; Adani Carmichael project

E&OE

JOHN MACKENZIE:
This is a page one story. Very significant of course, these plans to basically shut down Australia’s coal fired power stations. We’re talking much more expense to those who need their energy supplies, and also talking about the loss of jobs…

MINISTER CANAVAN:
Yeah well John, on the eastern seaboard - I'm in Canberra right now for Parliament, and you're up there obviously at the other end of the National Electricity Market in Cairns - but across that network which we're connected to by the poles and wires, about 75 percent of our electricity comes from coal. So three quarters of our electricity comes from coal fired power. Now yesterday, the Federal Labor Party announced that they want to shut down all of those coal fired power stations. All of them. And take out 75 percent of our power. Now we just saw what happened in South Australia a few months ago. They shut down their last coal fired power station in May, and by September they had a statewide blackout, the first time since the 1960s.

Why would you see that and say ‘yep, that's future we want, that's what we want for the future of our country’ where we put at risk our energy security, where we put at risk people's ability to keep the lights on and air conditioning on at home? We would put at risk companies like Sun Metals in Townsville, employing 300 people there. The Boyne Island Smelter at Gladstone employs more than 1000 people. The refinery up the road, another thousand. We need cheap baseload power to underpin the industries that this nation has been grown on. And a part of that is coal, and it is absolute madness to be talking about moving on. They've got no solution. They talk about renewables, but renewables cannot power aluminum smelters. They cannot power Sun Metals. They cannot provide, as we saw in South Australia, the consistent power to keep the lights on 24 hours a day.

JOHN MACKENZIE:
Interesting Matt that we’re talking about this, because so often the proponents of these plans to move away from coal… There was quite extensive coverage of this, I think it was in the Weekend Australian, revealing that Germany, which is held up as the ideal model, in fact they’re now buying electricity from the nuclear generating plants in France, and France is now buying a significant amount of electricity from Germany where it’s lignite or brown coal. What is going on? Why would these people who constantly look to moving away from coal hold Germany and to a certain extent France up as an example of where we should be going?

MINISTER CANAVAN:
It's another example of wanting to look like you're doing good, when you're actually doing the exact opposite. So there's a lot of people out there who want to say, and try to take credit for the fact that they're 100 percent renewables or they're reducing coal use. Germany is actually investing in their lignite, brown coal fired power stations, to upgrade them to become more efficient. They've shut their own nuclear power plants down, but you're right they're exporting a lot of that power to other countries in Europe, while importing power from Russia and France and others.

The same thing is happening here in Australia. The ACT claims that they are 100 percent renewable. So while I'm here in Parliament House, the ACT Government says that all this power comes from clean energy. It's a complete and utter fabrication. What actually happens is when the wind is not blowing in and around the ACT, they import power from New South Wales, which is largely black coal, and they pay offsets later on in the year to generate renewable energy elsewhere at a different time. Nowhere can go to 100 percent renewables because the wind doesn't blow all the time and neither does the sun shine all the time. It just cannot physically happen.

JOHN MACKENZIE:

Don’t go away, I need an update on how Adani is going because there was some encouraging reports coming out in the last few days.

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well look I've certainly been in constant discussions with Adani. It is a very important project for our state and for our country. There has been positive news this year. Last year there were a lot of hold ups. There were some errors made in the environmental approvals which were very disappointing. But this year has been a good year for Adani and I'm hopeful that there will be more good news before the year's out. But this is a major project. It's a big decision for any company to invest billions of dollars, and you can't count your chickens till they hatch. All we can do is to make sure we properly oversee the environmental regulations on this project. It is a big project. We believe that's been done with the strictest conditions ever put on this project. That has been approved, and now we can facilitate a major investment and create some jobs in our country.

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