The Courier-Mail

La­bor lead­ers de­fend state’s ‘ef­fi­cient’ coal

- JASON TIN

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.

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