When Craig Kelly gave his first speech in Parliament in 2010, he declared himself an environmentalist, citing a particular concern about the detrimental effects of diesel exhaust.
“As our cities and roads become more and more congested, I am concerned about the health effects from fine particulate matter in diesel exhaust, as studies in California show that diesel exhaust leads to 9,000 premature deaths annually.”
At the time, Labor were proposing an intermodal freight terminal at Moorebank in Kelly’s electorate where containers would be brought by rail from Port Botany and transferred to trucks for distribution to their final destination. Kelly was opposed to the idea because of the pollution it would cause.
In October 2016, Infrastructure Australia added the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal facility to its Infrastructure Priority List.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development explained the benefits of the project:
“Projects like the Moorebank Logistics Park link Australia’s freight networks and our ports, drive productivity, improve our logistics industries, and create long term efficiencies that will benefit our cities and our economy into the future.”
Sounds like a compelling case, but not to Craig Kelly who insisted that it was imperative that all diesel locomotive engines should be fitted with the same air pollution filters as trucks.
“At the moment there are no regulations at all applying to diesel locomotive engines used by freight trains,’’ Mr Kelly said. “For every container moved from Port Botany to an intermodal at Moorebank, particulate pollution would increase by 1,000 per cent.” (Love to see where he got that figure from).
“This would be devastating for air quality in western Sydney, where pollution levels are already above the recommended national standards.’’
This is the man who has railed against fuel efficiency standards and electric vehicles.
When it was pointed out to him that the huge cost of fitting air pollution equipment on freight train engines may make the project financially unsustainable, his response was “So be it.”
Forget the jobs, the congestion-busting, the cost cutting and the productivity gains – Craig cares about the environment, or at least his little corner of it.
If, however, it’s a coal mine a long way away, or a nuclear waste dump in another state, or land denuded of vegetation out in the bush, or shipping through the reef, Craig’s all for it. Jobs and Growth. More coal says the man who has overseas trips paid for by the coal industry.
But how would Craig react if it was his water supply being contaminated or if it was the Georges River drying up with millions of dead fish floating in it? How would he feel if the uncovered coal trains rumbled past his door or a severe weather event wiped out years of his work?
Kelly’s family furniture business went belly-up. Whilst this loud-mouth ignorant bully continues to exert influence via threats to colleagues and an inflated media presence, his appalling lack of judgement risks doing the same to the country.
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