Tran­si­tion to re­new­ables must be paced

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

SLOWLY but surely, mo­men­tum is build­ing for baseload power in the North.

Cane grow­ers to­day have joined other in­dus­try lead­ers in de­mand­ing en­ergy jus­tice.

And they con­tend the only means of de­liv­er­ing that jus­tice is by build­ing baseload ca­pac­ity in our re­gion and, more specif­i­cally, coal- fired power.

In do­ing so they echo the views of en­er­gy­hun­gry man­u­fac­tur­ing firms who have warned soar­ing power prices could drive them to the wall.

And just to be clear, the cane grow­ers’ po­si­tion does not ap­pear to be driven by any ide­o­log­i­cal re­sis­tance to re­new­ables.

They are ready to em­brace an al­ter­na­tive to fos­sil fu­els – just not one that puts them out of busi­ness.

“The is­sue with re­new­ables at present is that none of them have 100 per cent re­li­a­bil­ity, that’s the weak­ness at this point in time,” Cane­grow­ers Her­bert River man­ager Peter Sheedy said.

“It would be pre­ma­ture at this point in time to count on them.”

This is the dan­ger of the cur­rent lurch to­wards a pure, 100 per cent re­new­able en­ergy sup­ply.

We risk surg­ing way ahead of the curve, in the process driv­ing power prices to lev­els that will de­stroy busi­ness and jobs in our re­gion.

It is im­per­a­tive Queens­land does not squan­der its nat­u­ral ad­van­tage over the rest of the world.

We have cen­turies worth of cheap, re­li­able power. Our coal can un­der­pin an ef­fi­cient and, yes, low emis­sion in­dus­try that in turn can sus­tain job growth and pros­per­ity in North Queens­land.

At the very least, we must con­tinue to in­vest in coal in the medium term to en­sure that our tran­si­tion to a low- emis­sions tar­get is an or­derly one.

Bring on real es­tate re­cov­ery

IT’S a tad too soon to pop the cham­pagne corks but, boy, it’s good to see some life re­turn­ing to our prop­erty mar­ket.

Real es­tate is a vi­tal cog in any econ­omy and Townsville is no ex­cep­tion.

Af­ter show­ing some green shoots at the end of 2015, it was flat­tened again early last year by the col­lapse of Clive Palmer’s Queens­land Nickel re­fin­ery.

Now, with the worst of that fall­out re­ced­ing, and with a stream of big- ticket projects in the pipe­line, ev­i­dence is emerg­ing we have be­gun the long sought- for re­cov­ery.

Bring it on.

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