Federal Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon says the Hunter region’s four coal-fired electricity generators will have reached their commercial lives within twenty years and the Turnbull Government has no plan to prepare us for it.

Speaking in the Parliament today, Mr Fitzgibbon said of the regions large generators, “One, with a capacity of 2,000MW will be gone in five years. In twenty years, they’ll all be history.

“The good news is the Hunter is well placed to remain the Nation’s powerhouse.  The high voltage transmission lines are here.  The skills are here. We have excellent wind, solar and geothermal resources and plentiful gas.  We have a range of clean energy institutes in Newcastle including the CSIRO. But where is the plan?”

Mr Fitzgibbon said the former Labor Government had laid the foundations for the transition only to have the work repealed by the Abbott Government.

“Had the former Government’s policy framework remained in place we would all now be in a much better place.  The nation would now be operating under an emissions trading scheme in which carbon would be trading at a considerably lower price than $23 per tonne. Intensive trade exposed emitters would be supported on an ongoing basis, pensioners and low income families would be protected from any price rises, carbon-revenue would be funding projects which lift productivity in our farming sector and initiatives designed to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the environment more generally,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

He accused Malcolm Turnbull of not only failing to produce a strategy, but of setting the cause back by giving “false hope” over new “clean coal” generators.

“I was flabbergasted when Malcolm Turnbull put the cause back further by offering false hope on the development of new “clean-coal” generators. It was cleaner and more efficient coal generators I was pinning my hopes on for many years when urging a cautious approach to climate policy.  The Rudd Government invested a fortune in “carbon capture and storage” but the results have been less then promising.  Super critical coal generators are cleaner but sadly, not clean enough.  Just as important, the energy companies have no interest in building coal-fired generators that require 30 or more years of operation to deliver a decent return on investment,” he told the House of Representatives.

“Where is the transitional plan? Given Turnbull backed Tony Abbott when he destroyed Labor’s plan, what is Malcolm Turnbull’s Government doing to ensure the lights stay on, prices are stable and Hunter jobs are preserved?

“We cannot further delay the Hunter’s transition by bleating about “clean coal”.  Sadly, it isn’t going to be our future and we don’t have a moment to lose before we accept that and begin building a new beginning.”

An excerpt from the Parliamentary speech delivered by Joel Fitzgibbon on Monday February 13, 2017 can be found HERE.

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