What is it about Liberal–National parliamentarians and coal? Firstly, the federal treasurer gleefully fondles a lump of coal in the house, telling us it's harmless, despite the fact that inhaling smog from coal burning during the industrial revolution caused the premature deaths of millions of people across the globe. The Treasurer's 'stunt' was in support of the government's bullying of AGL to extend the life of the aging, and highly polluting, Liddell Power Station.
While the rest of the civilised world does away with coal-fired power in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, our conservatives are embracing the idea of expanding coal mining and coal-fired electricity. This is despite overwhelming evidence that this is changing global climate, threatening our very existence.
More recently the NSW Planning Minister lugged a large lump of coal into question time, using it as a 'prop' to support the State Governments Bill aimed at ensuring coal supplies to the Mount Piper power plant near Lithgow. “This amazing piece of black rock keeps you cool in summer, warm in winter”, he explained.
In this instance the furore was about a successful Court of Appeal challenge, preventing the expansion of the Springvale coal mine which supplies fuel to the Mount Piper plant. The reason for that decision was that the mine expansion could threaten Sydney's drinking water. However, State Government is so wedded to coal, that it is prepared to put the drinking water for some five million people in jeopardy to ensure the mine expansion goes ahead.
All this stupidity is backed up by dubious arguments that reliance on wind and solar generators will result in power cuts this coming summer, as if that is somehow the end of the world. Power cuts may happen as a result of lightning strikes, falling trees, bushfires, and infrastructure breakdowns. A careless excavator operator, or even a traffic accident bringing down a power pole can see your power cut for hours.
Power cuts are annoying inconvenient and potentially costly, but we deal with it. Governments need to quit investing in coal, and start investing in our future.
- John Edwards