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Turnbull refuses to rule out new coal-fired stations

Katherine Murphy |  29 June 2018

Malcolm Turnbull has refused to answer questions about whether the Coalition will facilitate the construction of new coal power stations or retrofit old ones as part of building internal support for the national energy guarantee, and courting One Nation support in the Senate.

The government decided last month to vote with One Nation in the Senate backing a motion calling on the Coalition “to facilitate the building of new coal-fired power stations and the retrofitting of existing base-load power stations”.
The Hanson motion was defeated 34-32, but the Coalition’s endorsement reflects a push within the Turnbull government to ensure that coal is given transitional assistance during the energy policy overhaul. The Nationals and some dissident Liberals want a fund for either new plants or upgrading existing ones in exchange for getting behind the Neg.
One Nation has also been pushing for ongoing support for the coal industry and the government relies on the Hanson bloc of votes in the Senate.
While proponents are framing ongoing support for coal as the price of internal peace within the Coalition, Labor has warned the government that new subsidies for coal as part of any Coalition settlement on the Neg will scuttle the chances of ending 10 years of partisan warring over climate and energy policy.
The shadow climate minister, Mark Butler, has declared Labor will not support a coal “fantasy” that flies in the face of expert advice.
Turnbull was asked by Labor in question time whether in the light of Wednesday’s (27 June 2018) Senate vote, he could advise how much taxpayers' money would be allocated to build new coal-fired power stations or retrofit existing ones.
The prime minister didn’t answer the question. He said the Neg was “technology agnostic and facilitates investment in all forms of generation”.
Turnbull said the government’s focus was on lowering electricity prices. “We are turning the corner on energy prices. Across the national electricity market they are coming down from July 1, and wholesale customers have been receiving the benefit of much lower wholesale prices and lower gas prices for some time.”
“Our plan is working. We are bringing energy prices down”.
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