Canberra Report: Liddell plan a good result for region

JUST before Christmas AGL released its long-anticipated plan for electricity generation in the Upper Hunter.

It was a good result for our region and our fingers are collectively crossed for the multi-billion dollar investment to now flow.

The plan is far superior to the poorly-thought-through idea of extending the life of Liddell power station. That proposal was never going to pass the most basic physical and financial tests. It did no more than bring false hope.

The debate around Liddell was unnecessary. AGL's plan has been long in the making and was released not much earlier than it would have been if the debate had not occurred.

The new plan is a good outcome for a number of reasons. First, it will secure existing jobs and create new jobs, not for five years but for decades to come. Second, it allows the Upper Hunter to remain the power house of NSW. Third, it will help transition Australia to a lower-carbon economy, something all nations will inevitably do. Fourthly, done well, it should lead to lower energy costs. Finally, it will put the Hunter at the forefront of renewable energy technology and give us a march on other regions.

Liddell will still probably operate for another five years and Bayswater should be burning coal for another 15.

The new renewable generators and energy storage facilities will become part of the national conversation and will likely attract international attention. It's a good result.

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IN June 2017 Britain's Theresa May signed a coalition agreement with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party to give her the numbers required to form a government. More recently, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ahern signed a coalition agreement with the New Zealand First party in order to form a government.

Both agreements were made public, as they should.

Here in Australia the leader of the Liberal Party also signed a coalition agreement to form a government.

The difference is Malcolm Turnbull's deal with the Nationals remains a secret. Indeed for the past 12 months Australia's Prime Minister has been fighting me in the Courts to keep the document from the Australian people.

Under the Westminster system, nothing could be more fundamental to our democracy than our right to know what agreements have been entered into to form a government. Yet Malcolm Turnbull is spending taxpayers' money fighting my Freedom of Information application so that the deals he did with the Nats can remain secret. What does he have to hide?

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