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The dirty truth behind Turnbull’s ‘clean coal’ con

You have to hand it to Clive Palmer. Whatever money he invested to get himself elected to parliament with sufficient power to abolish the carbon and mining taxes was well worth it for him personally.

And now it seems that Clive is trying to take advantage of the government’s direction to the CEFC to fund clean coal.

Waratah Coal, the company owned by Palmer’s Mineralogy, confirmed to the ABC on Tuesday that it had made an application to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation last Friday to finance a proposed 900MW coal generator that proposes to use an unproven technology, carbon capture and storage.

No plant in the world has come close to making this a commercially viable proposition and the owners of the most advanced project, Kemper in Georgia, now admit it would be impossible to make money from coal generation and CCS.

Resources minister Matt Canavan has been particularly vocal in support of a new coal-fired power station in north Queensland. This proposal, from Palmer, is the only proposal in the pipeline. Most other energy investors in the area are instead looking to solar and wind farms.

Even the Energy Supply Council, which represents the country’s fossil fuel generators, admits that new coal power is now “un-investable”.

The Coalition wants such coal plants to be funded by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, but this has been dismissed on several occasions by CEO Oliver Yates, who points out that co-financiers would be impossible to find, and any such investment would require billions of dollars in government guarantees and indemnities against a future carbon price.

Palmer’s proposal relies heavily on the anticipated “500-600 MW” growth in electricity demand over coming years “as production from surrounding mines increases to meet future ore exports.” These clearly relate to the proposed Adani and Rinehart mines.

In order to spin this load of crap, Sid Marris, a former analyst with the Minerals Council of Australia, and a 16-year veteran of News Ltd, has joined Turnbull’s staff as an advisor.

Then, last week, the chairman of the Minerals Council of Australia, the most vocal coal lobby group, Vanessa Guthrie, was appointed to the ABC board despite not making the shortlist prepared by an independent panel.

Also last week, it was revealed that the Queensland Government appointed an Adani company director to chair the state-owned authority overseeing the Abbot Point coal port, despite being warned of “potential conflicts of interest”.

Mr Fish’s appointment as NQBP chair was made in September 2015 by Treasurer Curtis Pitt. He did not resign the directorship of the Adani-owned Abbot Point Operations until November 11, 2015.

Last November, Ian Macfarlane, who was until recently a coalition minister, was named as the new chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).

While Gina Rinehart cultivates and bankrolls certain politicians, Clive scams the system for all its worth, and the Minerals Council infiltrates the highest levels of government and the media, emissions keep rising – over 7% since the repeal of the carbon price, the growth coming mainly from the electricity sector, due to increased coal-fired generation, and from the new LNG export facilities in Queensland, where more coal and gas is being burned to power the liquefaction of coal seam gas, so it can be shipped overseas.

On Friday, the Australian Conservation Foundation appeared before the Federal Court in Brisbane to appeal a decision last year that gave the huge Carmichael coalmine the green light.

The government lawyers argued that if the mine didn’t go ahead, the same amount of coal could still be produced somewhere else in the world.

ACF slammed this approach.

“Basically, the Government is using the drug dealer’s defence – the argument that if we don’t dig up this coal and burn it, somebody else will,” ACF chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy said. “This drug dealer’s defence is unethical and mocks the efforts of countries that are working to reduce global climate pollution.

“The Great Barrier Reef is already under enormous stress, with scientists warning the Reef could be hit by coral bleaching for the second year in a row – the last thing it needs is a huge new coal mine.”

The full bench of the Federal Court will hand down its decision at a later date.

Research indicates that this year the reef is under even greater heat stress than last year when we saw devastating bleaching.

Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said “It’s alarming that the reef is bleaching so soon again, giving no time for recovery from the huge losses of corals in the northern third of the Reef in 2016. The scary part is that 2017 is not an El Nino year – and the period between these bleaching events is getting shorter, too short for recovery.”

Tourism connected to the Great Barrier Reef alone employs 70,000 people and generates $5 billion in revenue annually.

We don’t have time for this deliberate disinformation campaign funded by wealthy vested interests and facilitated by lying politicians who are purely thinking of their donations and political support now and employment after politics.

The sooner we give up this coal con, the sooner we can actually address the challenges we face.

Ian Macdonald wears personally monogrammed “” shirt provided by the Minerals Council


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  1. Matters Not

    Clive’s ‘bid’ is just an example of him ‘taking the piss’ and revealing once again his driving need to get media coverage or, if you like, relevance deprivation syndrome. He knows that no government will touch any of his ‘stunts’, given his recent financial disasters.

    Clive is just a jolly joker these days.

    But then again, a desperate government will engage in desperate behaviour.

  2. Kaye Lee

    No-one will touch Adani either but that isn’t stopping our government from considering giving them a billion.

    “The business behind the planned Carmichael coal mine in North Queensland is facing multiple financial crime and corruption probes, with Indian authorities investigating Adani companies for siphoning money offshore and artificially inflating power prices at the expense of Indian consumers.”

  3. MichaelW

    Aaaargh , what can one say about the most pathetic, unfair out of touch government in Australia’s history, they are almost making previous coalition governments look good, apart from the wars we had to have, then again I’m sure there must be a new war coming up soon with that nut job in charge of the white house. No doubt our coalition of the willing will follow them to whatever conflict they are instructed to help with.

    By the way Kaye Lee hows your broadband going? I’m still with adsl and staying with it until I have to change after all the horror stories I’ve heard. Apparently our internet rating in the world has improved from 51st to 50th as of January 2017. Wow.

  4. Kaye Lee

    The Australia Institute did an interesting paper on the National Australia Infrastructure Fund. It’s just a few people with few resources and no policies and procedures or risk assessment process in place. Minister Canavan said “there is not really a formal submission or application process” but “discussions that occur”. We are talking about a body tasked with investing $5 billion of our dollars and they are thinking of using 20% of their capital to fund a project that has basically no chance of repaying the loan with no risk assessment?.

    ” guidance does not explain how NAIF will assess projects against its mandatory requirements and make Investment Decisions (formal decisions to offer or not offer financing). This is despite the Investment Mandate requiring public guidance on “Investment Decision processes”.

    NAIF did not have a Risk Appetite Statement, a policy which is required under its Investment Mandate to guide its management of risk.

    Broadband drops out all the time and is often very slow and I am still pursuing my business loss claim. Apparently when the two people I have been dealing with at the Ombudsman both left, the case was not passed on to anyone else.

    When son rang about the low speed he was told it was because no-one in our area has taken it up which makes no sense to me. Wouldn’t that make it quicker? I have no faith in anything they tell me.

  5. pierre wilkinson

    a federal ICAC would be busy for a decade investigating this current government

  6. leighton8

    Good enlightenment piece there, Kaye, at least now more of the dots are being connected to show just who is benefiting from the continued limping existence of this current LNP government. It isn’t the people as a whole that is for sure …. and it definitely isn’t the environment ….

  7. Greg

    really the only thing i can say is … O gawd

  8. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Kaye. The Queensland Labor Government continues to be a huge embarrassment to the national Party and to Labor voters everywhere. Truly, they make me squirm.

  9. Kaye Lee

    This should be beyond politics and necessary action advised by the experts. It is beyond belief that we are allowing vested interests to overrule real risk assessment and mitigation.

    Every time I hear the Coalition use their spin line of they are keeping electricity prices low I want to scream. They could very easily cut everyone’s bill tomorrow if that was their aim by getting rid of the GST charged on this essential item. They could quarantine a certain amount of the resources we own for domestic use at a set low price. They could stop guaranteeing the profits of the companies they sold our electricity grids to so they stop building unneeded poles and wires. They could stop subsidising the fossil fuel industry. They could stop privatising essential infrastructure so it could satisfy the needs of the community rather than those of the shareholders. They could help educate people on how to cut their consumption and subsidise low energy products. They could facilitate reuse and recycling.

    But they don’t actually want solutions, just a wedge play for the next election.

  10. Richard creswick

    I hope someone in the labor party is keeping track of those who must be removed from positions of influence as soon as they are elected. The Guthrie women (plural intended) should be on the list as well as the Liberal and National losers given sinecures. Imagine the pleasure if seeing Brandis take up the London option, only to lose it (hopefully) shortly thereafter, and the Joe. If I were the Opposition leader I would be warning all those rent seeking lobby groups that giving jobs to dud Lib/Nats would see doors closed to them. The LNP have shown they have no shame in such areas. There might be a few overly political department heads who require a bit of quiet advice.

  11. Keith

    In its last Report the IPCC hardly covered methane. Since a number of research projects have concentrated on studying methane. A dopey and dangerous Trump mob want to break up the EPA. It has been suggested that the EPA stop monitoring the release of methane from fossil fuel mining.

    Meanwhile, it has just been found that huge deposits of methane have been discovered between Central America and Hawaii.

    A large area in North West Canada has permafrost thawing, a huge potential source of methane and CO2 depending on the amount of organic matter

    Arctic Permafrost Thaw Would Amplify Climate Change

    Meanwhile, we have the Turnbull clowns doing everything possible to heighten the dangers of climate change.

  12. Jai Ritter

    Caravan lied through his teeth the other day when when Scott Ludlam ask him if he’d talked to Clive Palmer at all. Canavan straight out said no.

    Really getting sick of these lying pricks in government.

  13. Matters Not

    Jai Ritter, Canavan is probably the next leader of the Nats. Has the correct, desirable credentials (academic and political) to lead the Nats into a ‘new era’. He’s ‘the hope of the side’ for the power brokers that fund the Nats.

    While Barnaby is ‘popular’, the power brokers know he’s a dill and that’s why the funds aren’t flowing. They will for Canavan. Who used to work for Barnaby.

  14. George Swalwell

    Bravo Kaye Lee.
    This whole “clean coal” [oxymoron] business reeks of conflict of interest,
    insider dealing, special deals for mates and wildly optimistic forecasts of
    generator efficiency, market possibilities – and no climate change!

  15. Jon L

    Kaye…I am beyond wanting to scream these days….it’s more along the lines of wanting to break out the weapons from the armory and set out on a spree of targeted assassinations…….these corrupt scum are some way beyond a joke!

  16. Johno

    Good piece Kaye..
    The LNP swamp is going septic.
    As some americans chant “Not my president”. I will chant “Not my government”.

  17. Crime Watch (@CrimewatchQLD)

    Palmer is a conman, we know that, and if justice is served, headed for jail. Any proposal from him on any matter should be instantly binned. Let’s posit that without further ado.

    But we do need conventional power sources (presently coal, gas or nuclear) to do the heavy lifting baseline power supply. Intermittent and cyclical sources such as wind, solar, tidal, and hydro at best can only top ups, albeit it at a high cost. Plus the notion that they’re more ecologically friendly only stands scrutinity if CO2 is the only factor examined, and even then the offset of land clearing and large scale construction and transport to build sprawling industrial estates of them threatens that as well.

    Sure, wind, solar and tidal can present profitable business opportunities for savvy investors but that’s a different subject from supplying power to a growing population that’s demanding reliable energy and not at luxury prices.

  18. Keith

    A few weeks ago I met up with some American tourists, they stated they were on an Apology Tour in relation to their last election. A week or so later met some Canadian tourists who were exceptionally apprehensive about Trump being elected. I wonder if there are any Australian tourists overseas who express their concern about the Turnbull mob.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Crime Watch,

    The cost of fossil fuel use is far greater when you factor in the health and environmental costs and the damage caused by extreme weather events. Businesses who actually do risk assessment should know this. They have to protect their supply chains and the infrastructure that they rely on for both supply and distribution. It is only those out to make a quick buck from a dying industry that are pretending fossil fuels are any sort of option for the future.

    We can’t eliminate our use yet but we sure as hell must cut it down and invest in available alternatives and research. No-one is going to invest in new coal-fired generators here.

    CS Energy produces a third of Queensland’s power, and runs two of the most advanced coal-fired plants in the country. But the company’s CEO says he has no plans to build more, because the economics doesn’t stack up.

    MARTIN MOORE: Well, I think CS Energy certainly has no intention of building any coal-fired power plants, ultra-centre super-critical or not. And it would surprise me greatly if there was any more coal-fired technology was built in Australia.

    I think when you look at the risk of the investment, you’re talking about $2 billion-plus investment up-front. These assets have a plant life of roughly 40 years, and so it’s a very, very big long-term bet. So given the current uncertainty, I think it would be a very courageous board that would invest in coal-fired technology in Australia.

    MATTHEW WARREN, AUSTRALIAN ENERGY COUNCIL: Plans for expansion to coal-fired power stations has been basically shelved over the last decade. We’re now looking at gas and renewables as the mainstay of the investment for us, at least for the next 10-20 years.

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