Labor leaders defend state’s ‘efficient’ coal
SENIOR Palaszczuk Government figures have urged environmentalists within the Labor Party to be “pragmatic” and avoid hastily abandoning the state’s jobcreating coal mining.
State Development Minister Anthony Lynham (pictured) and Environment Minister Steven Miles yesterday faced down questions from the party faithful about the competing interests between Queensland’s mining industry and Labor’s environmental commitments.
Dr Lynham told the ALP State Conference there was a need to be “pragmatic”, while Dr Miles warned Labor did not want to be the party that “jolts” the economy through a crackdown on coal.
The State Development Minister said Queensland’s “future is with renewables”, but if Queensland didn’t mine coal, others would.
“We are progressing to renewables, but we have to be pragmatic about what we do in that meantime,” he said.
Dr Lynham also warned the state had an “honest choice to make”.
“We can mine coal in Queensland, where we have the highest mine safety record in the world, we mine coal with environmental rigour and we mine coal that’s very efficient and economic to burn,” he said.
“If we don’t allow this to go ahead, coal is one of the most prolific minerals on the Earth, there are many other sources of coal, but none as good as the coal we mine here.”
Dr Miles insisted Labor would balance job creation and the economy with environmental considerations.
“We’re not just a bunch of greenies, we have the fantastic voices of our trade unions and together we can make sure that working people are brought on this journey,” he said.
“We are not going to be the party that jolts the economy by closing down coal without a transition that adequately shifts the economy and takes workers with us.”
The internal contest between jobs and the environment was also highlighted through a heated stoush over a motion to amend the party’s policy platform to include ending sand mining on North Stradbroke Island by 2019.
Capalaba MP Don Brown, who is affiliated with leftwing union United Voice, locked horns with Ben Swan, the Queensland secretary of the AWU, which is closely aligned with Labor’s Right faction.
Mr Brown’s motion follows the Palaszczuk Government confirming earlier this year that it will legislate by the end of this year to end sand mining by 2019.
But Mr Swan argued workers were the “only group” that had been “left out of any consultation on this proposal”, despite the Government’s emphasis on consultation.
“That is a disgrace that workers and the unions have been left out,” he said.
“If this was the CFMEU mining and energy division, with respect to Acland, being treated this way, there would be howls of outrage.”
But Mr Brown said he had written to the AWU offering to meet with members, which was declined.