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Matt Canavan loves coal “unashamedly” – says it’s good for First Australians

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Federal resources minister has surprised no one and used his National Press Club address on Wednesday to “unashamedly” spruik the boundless potential and perceived upside of Australia’s coal mining, export – and burning – sectors; and to decry anyone who should think otherwise.

Speaking to the audience of journalists, Canavan rolled out all of his tried and true coal myths – including that Australian coal is the answer to alleviating poverty in India. And he even fashioned a few new ones, including that maintaining robust coal, oil and gas mining sectors is somehow something Australia’s indigenous population greatly needs and wants.

Canavan also vehemently denied that the global coal mining and export business was going into decline – as so many of the world’s top energy analysts continue to assert. Rather, he pointed to IEA forecasts, which he said meant Australia would need to “produce more coal that it ever has in its history,” to meet demand.

But the ability to seize that opportunity was at risk, he lamented, from Australia’s political debate on resources “becoming too partisan.”

“We have to work hard to maintain our preeminent position as a mining country and a strong resources nation,” Canavan said. “If we can do that, there will be many more opportunities from a strong resources sector.

“A stronger resources sector would mean more jobs, … more business for other industries across Australia, including tourism. And most importantly, a strong resources sector will help fulfill our promise to our first Australians to give them the economic opportunities that so many of us take for granted,” Canavan said.

“That’s how I will judge whether our resources policy is successful or not. I will judge it not in terms of dollars earned, or the amount of exports we achieve, or even the taxes we get here into Canberra … the way I’ll judge the success of the resources policy of this nation, is how many people it can help, to have a job, provide for their family and carve out a better future for themselves.”

How the coal industry will benefit Australia’s most vulnerable and remote indigenous communities, Canavan did not explain. But it’s worth pointing out most of these will shift from diesel power to solar and battery storage in the not-too distant future – if they are not already.

Canavan also claimed that a majority of the indigenous communities local to the proposed Adani coal mine, in northern Queensland’s Galilee Basin, supported the mega mine going ahead, and that it was just big city dwellers and rich folk from other countries that opposed its development – and used the legal system to try and block it.

“I can’t believe that we sit back and let our judicial system be abused in that way,” Canavan said. “Here we have millions of dollars coming out of the United States… seeking to influence our democratic processes, and what are we doing about it?”

In answer to his own question, Canavan noted that the Turnbull government was currently seeking to get through laws restricting overseas organisations from “jeopardising and compromising our democratic processes.”

And to address the bad rap that he believes the resources sector is getting, Canavan also announced that his department had established a Resources 2030 taskforce, which would address the key priorities of attracting investment. cutting red tape, and “bolstering community support” for the sector.

Why this is necessary when, according to Canavan, “80 per cent of people agree with coal” in Queensland, and a further 60 per cent support the development of the Adani coal mine, is unclear.

Finally, when asked by The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy whether he felt a responsibility, in his portfolio, to prepare people for the global low-carbon transition that’s coming, given Australia is a signatory to the Paris climate agreement, Canavan had this to say:

“I find it highly objectionable to talk about people’s loss of jobs and livelihoods as a transition. Let’s be frank, that’s a euphemistic term. That’s a term to try to hide … what will be the real impacts of that…

“For many thousands of businesses and people in central and north Queensland and (the NSW) Hunter Valley, it won’t be a transition, it will be utter heartbreak.

“I don’t like the term transition, let’s be frank. If you want to shut down the coal industry and cost people jobs, say it. Have the guts to say it.

“I also … absolutely contest that the coal industry …. is inconsistent with the obligations we’ve got to reduce carbon emissions,” he added.

“The coal industry is certainly not inconsistent with the Paris Agreement, because we’ve got 14 countries that … are saying that their plans to reduce their emissions include investing in the advanced HELE coal-fired power stations.

“They’re going to meet their commitments under Paris by investing more in coal, because they’re going to invest in cleaner coal technologies that burn coal at higher temperatures, and therefore generate fewer emissions,” he said.

“We should be thinking of …the smart ways to respond to climate change. Thinking about what we can do to continue economic growth and lower carbon emissions. Not locking ourselves into this narrow view that it must be renewables, or something else, not coal and not oil and not gas.

“I mean … I agree with Deng Xiaoping; it doesn’t matter if it’s a black cat, a yellow cat or a white cat, as long as it catches mice. And the coal industry, and the technologies that are coming out of the coal industry, are going to be able to catch mice.

“They’re going to be able to lower emissions. They’re doing that already. And it seems strange that a country that gets so much from the coal industry, would be taking such an anti-technological anti-science approach.

“I stand on a platform that is unashamedly pro-coal. I got elected on that basis.

“Unfortunately, there’s a very small minority voice… a small, loud minor voice that want to dictate to the rest of the country their view.

“Well I think, it would be better …to listen rather than lecture. … rather than take the propaganda that is coming out of other countries and of major cities that would like to turn people out on the street.”  

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  • George Michaelson

    Ok .. walk me through how a strong mining sector buoys up tourism? Or, is that domestic tourism from cashed-up miners, taking leave from FIFO to be with family?

    • mick

      it’s see it before its gone tourism

      • Joe

        ..like The Great Barrier Reef…it ain’t so great anymore. Maybe we should rename The GBR as…. ‘The Lessening Reef’.

        • Ian

          Late Great Barrier Reef

  • howardpatr

    Abbott, Kelly and Joyce must be so proud to count this ignoramus, Canavan, as one of their key supporters in the fight against action on anthropogenic climate change.

    • Warwick Sands

      We will! Directly or indirectly through our health or lack of it: Asthma, Emphysema and the myriad of ailments caused by pollution from coal.

      • Patrick Comerford

        Might be worth those coal miners that contracted Black Lung Disease putting their opinions to Canavan and whether those jobs are worth dying a slow painful death.

        • Joe

          I am guessing in an automated mining project you won’t have the black lung anymore so the Coal Fanboys and Boosters will be spinning the lines of ‘improved health outcomes’ for workers (?) in coal mining …just saying.

    • Joe

      The COALavan served his ‘apprenticeship’ with Bananabee Joyce….tells you all you need to know about the dude’s thinking on climate and RE..

  • Joe

    I watched Matteo COALavan on the telly courtesy of ABC TV that covers the weekly Press Club Address in Canberra. At the end I was hoping that Renew Economy would have the speech as an item in today’s page of Renew Economy so thank you Sophie for doing the business, yes. For anyone interested you can go onto ABC Iview to hear the full speech. The COALvan pumping up his HELE as the answer to reducing emissions to meet The Paris Agreement obligations would be comical if the issue of climate change was not so dire. Here we are in Australia with our CO2 emissions rising every year, not falling to meet our Paris obligations, and the COALavan says the solution is…build the HELE and invest in more Coal. His whole 1 hour session was pretty much a Coal love-in. I guess that’s why he is ‘affectionately’ titled ‘The Rescuers Minister’.

    • Rod

      No thanks. I feel quite ill just reading these few excerpts. I wonder who he thinks will pay for these wonderful HELE plants he is championing.

      • Joe

        He didn’t say and the journos didn’t have a chance follow up as COALavan’s hour slot came to an end. But of course there is no excuse for journos not to followup, dare I say interrogate, the COALavan very quickly now. He is in Canberra and so are the journos…ask the questions!

      • trackdaze

        Who pays? Taxpayers.

  • sunNwind

    “And it seems strange that a country that gets so much from the coal industry, would be taking such an anti-technological anti-science approach.”

    Hardly needs saying, but Canavan clearly does not respect (climate) science. And he does not seem to understand that, however you burn a lump of coal, it will emit CO2. That is a pretty basic scientific concept. And considering the impressive advances in renewable technologies, he seems to be just a tad anti-technological.

    As far as employment is concerned, how many jobs does he think have been gained in the renewable sector in recent years??

    • Joe

      Isn’t it odd that we have the Government spruiking the importance of Science ( and Maths ) and at the same turn they completely ignore Climate Science and Environmental Science. I wonder what could be happening?

      • sunNwind

        Yes it is. I am a research scientist by profession and find the stance of Canavan, Abbott and colleagues on climate science deeply offensive. The Turnbull Government either does not understand the significance of the remarkable consensus reached by climate scientists, or are simply willing to compromise the planet’s future just to placate the right, and support the fossil fuel industry. This is not good enough, and is a severe indictment on the current leadership.

        • Joe

          A Dutch Court and a New Zealand Court have already ‘primed’ politicians minds to taking seriously the issue of climate change and actions to mitigate. It may well be too late but I hope that one day the Abbott / Turnbull governments will be prosecuted for their crimes against the planet and humanity.

    • RobertO

      Hi sunNwind, they also forgot to ask how many jobs Coal Mining has lost in the last 100 years.The numbers are about 10% of what they used to be and automation is costing them more jobs (even the ABC in it’s futures jobs stated “mining is not a secure job for tommorw empolyment”.

  • brucelee

    Are solar and wind not resources ?

    • Joe

      If it can’t be dug up it ain’t…. a resource.

  • Paul Surguy

    He is dreaming and big time

  • John Saint-Smith

    Sadly no-one saw the opportunity to ask Senator Canavan why it was that with the whole of darkened India, and at least 14 other development hungry countries desperate for a taste of our lacquered, parliamentarian safe ‘clean’ coal, why it was that Gautam Adani, owner of several high quality imported coal dependant power stations that can’t get enough coal to keep them operating, has stalled for nearly two years without turning a sod on his magical super mine that will save the earth from poverty, and in the process, make him the richest man in the world?

    While on the subject, I note that Adani has telegraphed that his mine won’t be competitive unless it is largely autonomous. So how does that square with young Matthew’s child-like faith that Adani and all the other mining mult-nationals will employ lots of uneconomic Australian workers in his ‘coal mines to the horizon’ dream of development in Northern Australia.

    But best of all is Canavan’s distaste for the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’ transition that is sweeping the rest of the world but isn’t mentioned by ‘decent’ journalists in Australia. The TIR is already creating millions of new jobs around the world and is poised to do that in India, and China and at least 14 other ‘real’ countries that are ramping up their renewables and smart grid technologies.

    Does this dodo really believe he isn’t already extinct? (Or as Dutton would say, “Dead to me.”)

    • Joe

      COALavan’s idea of TIR is…The HELE.

  • RobertO

    Hi All, RWNJis our friend Mattie. “If I could spend the taxpayer money to build me a new HELE power plant I would” (said Mattie).
    He is one of our most dangerous pollies, no respect for economics at all. He would lose money from the tax payers and he would also sign contracts committing the taxpayers to buy the power at 150% of the actual costs just to guarantee income for his beloved coal mining companies (and stuff the taxpayer).

    • Joe

      Stay tuned for The NAIF to build Matteo COALavan’s HELE/ies

      • RobertO

        Thanks Joe, I sure that Mattie has a bright future in mathematics. An automated mine has 17000 new jobs in it (one of his many claims on a Channel 7 New report last year).

        • Joe

          Love that piece of logic, a sidesplitter to be sure.But then again that’s what COAL intoxication does to your thinking.

          • mick

            i thought he was using product from griffith

          • Joe

            purely for….medicinal purposes ?

  • George Darroch

    Let’s be absolutely clear – if you are voting for the Liberal/National Party (there’s no practical difference on energy and climate) – then you are voting for this. The same goes for any of the smaller parties that prop them up in the Senate.

  • Andrew Lang

    Have a look at New Hope, they are an Australian owned entity that sells coal to Asia. There is a report on their website spruiking up HELE throughout Asia.
    I would suggest that this is perhaps the encouragement for Mr Canavans speech.
    The CEO of Washington H. Soul Pattinson (sorry can’t remember his name) gave a very confident interview last week on ABC business, where he was smiling greatly a the price they have been able to negotiate of their coal to Asia.
    To roughly paraphrase him, he said “Asia wants coal and is paying handsomely …”

    I merely put this here as we don’t see this argument put forward too often.
    If this is what is happening in our coal industry, it helps explain a few things.

    http://www.newhopegroup.com.au/files/files/Why%20HELE%20is%20part%20of%20Australia%20s%20energy%20solution%20-%207%20February%202017.pdf

    • john

      They are doing Carbon sequation correct

    • mick

      optimists lol

  • Ken Dyer

    Canavan lives in la la land!

    “…the coal industry, and the technologies that are coming out of the coal industry, are going to be able to catch mice. They’re going to be able to lower emissions….”

    Billions of dollars have been wasted here and overseas on CCS technology, and not one scintilla of emissions reduction has been achieved.

    https://www.crikey.com.au/2017/06/16/just-how-bullshit-is-the-fantasy-of-clean-coal-and-ccs/

    In Australia, in February, renewable energy generated more electricity than did coal according to the Green Markets Energy Report. Not only that, it delivered power when it was needed most.

    The report also stated that the 5000MW of projects under construction have delivered 17445 jobs.

    Jobson Groth has deserted the LNP COALition and now works for the renewable energy industry.

    • RobertO

      Hi Ken Dyer, I think the report was on brown coal (not on all coal). I believe that the sooner all coal retires the better off we will all be and I live in hope that it’s inside of the next 5 to 7 years. Provided that we change Fed Gov next time and Labour stay with 50% RE I am of the opinion that about the end of 2022 we will be at 75% or better. Transport will slow the changeover but will not save coal. My worry is that in the next elections COALition is returned and with control in the Senate and the RWNJ will have more say in an Australia Fed Gov, the likes of Mattie will insist on a new HELE in Australia (despite it costing taxpayers $ millions). If they get control they may even change the EPA laws to suit to remove the Courts from enforcing any laws (calling the election to me is still tossing a coin at this time and how many lies will the electorate believe).

      • Joe

        With Rupert and his newsrags always in Campaign Mode on behalf of The COALition the punters are continually fed so many lies and misinformation they can’t work out what is truth, fiction or lies anymore. They just swallow what the Rupe shoves down their throats. You just need to read some of the letters from the punters that get published. Sure they are cherry picked but it shows the thinking of the readers of Rupe’s newsrags. Hence the still closeness in the polls and a Labor election win is no given.

        • RobertO

          Hi Joe, 2 toungs will turn completely 180 deg on RE shortly before they call the election. He will dump on Baabbott and most of the RWNJ’s in an attempt to hold on to power (and a lot of COALition supports will beleive the lies told about why he has turned on Baabbott (I still want to be opposition leader second time round at the meeting of Pauline Handson book launch, and may be we need to get a preference deal done to support each other). I hope I am 100% wrong and the result is Labour / Greens in both houses

          • Joe

            Can anyone work out what is going on inside the mind of notmyPM, Two Tongues Turnbull. In the past as Opposition Leader he was all go, go, go for RE. Then he does a deal with the devil ( Liberal RWNJ’s ) to oust Baabbott and be the notmyPM. Then he goes and sticks the solar PV on his roof and adds a battery set as well. All the while mocking and ridiculing former Premier Jay with the label of “left wing idealogy and idiocy” whenever Premier Jay made a fresh announcement on RE. Two Tongues Turnbulll needs to see a doctor, his mind is not right. And what a hoot it was to see Baabbott and Paulini in a public love-in at that book launch….besties all over again after all these years amid the former acrimony when Paulini got jailed in part thanks to the Baabbott. The political wind will change from COALition to Labor, I just hope it is at the next election. We can’t afford another election cycle before the change. There just is no more time to waste in halting FF.

  • nakedChimp

    Well, I don’t even blame this individual for how he is, I blame the system that enabled him to get into such a position.
    Just sick.

    • john

      welcome to politics as it is in the west or the east for that matter no content and little knowledge in statements and the majority of people just accept it because they have zero idea about the statement.
      Not good I know but that is how we are moving ahead backwards.

  • Patrick Comerford

    King Canute springs to mind when looking at this tragic.

    • Peter Campbell

      Please be fair to Canute. He never thought he could hold back the tide. He was demonstrating to sycophantic courtiers that their claims for his powers were over the top.

  • Chris Baker

    If Matt Canavan was really worried about the jobs in regional areas he wouldn’t be promoting Adani with its driverless trucks and driverless trains. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-06/adani-automation-will-take-jobs-off-coal-face-and-into-the-city/8094486
    As well its low employment per tonne of coal, its also expected to steal jobs from the marginal mines in the Hunter Valley and Queensland. These are mines that are not well automated, and so employ lots more people per tonne of coal. So as well as stealing jobs from them, it will replace very few of them with new jobs, resulting in a net loss of jobs for the coal mining that gets relocated.

    If Matt Canavan was really interested in regional jobs he be supporting Sanjeev Gupta’s projects in South Australia that not only revitalise a near-death steel industry in Whyalla, but also bring employment and technology leadership to the region with the development of renewable energy projects to underwrite the future energy costs for the project. With renewable energy having very low short run marginal costs it bodes well for the future employment in the area. You’d think he’d be interested in ways of decreasing electricity prices so that Boyne Smelter doesn’t have to shut down a potline when the prices get to too high in summer.

    If Matt Canavan was really worried about jobs in regional areas he’d be wondering how he might increase employment at the Keppel Prince wind turbine plan at Portland, and noticing that they plan to increase employment from 100 to 200 workers as a result of renewable energy programs of the Victorian Government. https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/jobs-boom-for-portland-manufacturer/
    Oh, hang on, I think thats the other side, and partisan politics would suggest he couldn’t support that, no matter how good it is for jobs.

    Being parochial though you’d think he’d be looking at ways to attract new economy companies like Keppel Prince to open manufacturing plants in Townsville. But hang on, maybe they don’t donate as much to the LNP as the old economy companies do.

    Perhaps he was talking about himself when he lamented that Australia politics is becoming too partisan.

    • john

      All very true

  • john

    Giving Electricity to the poor in India at what is it 5 rupee a kWh when they only earn 8 or 10 per day I do not think is going to add up.

  • john

    I notice a lot of comments saying Matt believes the best ideas is to build a HELE plant!!!
    Why on heck would any one build a HELE or for that matter any kind of plant when it can not compete with the new energy type producers??????
    Or yes that is rite we can build it and blame some one else for the price of energy because we give a preference to this pathetic high cost idea which will produce power at consumer price of about 12 Cents a Kilowatt Hour against every other of about 5 cents

    • RobertO

      Hi John, there are several being built around the world. I think there are 2 in Pakistan that will need to use imported black coal because they cannot use the local brown coal, much to the joy of some Australian produces (and much disappoinment of the locals) and it was recommended by Australian Minerals Council. Only the rich in Pakistan will be able to afford our coal produced electricity We will need to answer for our actions at some time in the future. Our exported coal is not counted as part of our GHG emmissions.

      • Joe

        ….Adani / Carmichael Coal to the rescue again (?) this time Pakistan’s HELE. This after lifting hundreds of millions of Indians out of energy poverty. Give Adani The Nobel Peace prize for his ‘humanitarian’ efforts, yes…NO!

      • trackdaze

        It will be in others that will burn less of it as each year passes.

        Peak coal is either in the rear view mirror or no later than 2022.

    • Chris Jones

      > which will produce power at consumer price of about 12 Cents a Kilowatt Hour against every other of about 5 cents

      ..or more if the experience of the Kemper plant in Mississippi is anything to go by (3 years late, cost tripled to $7.5 billion USD, and it’s a gas plant now).

  • Chris Drongers

    Somewhere along the way from Menzies, Conservative Thought got mixed up with ‘lack of imagination’ and ‘fear of the future’. Menzies, as I understand his history, was a supporter of small ‘L’ liberal thought and wanted to embrace the new world while retaining the best of the old. Coal is ‘old’ and even a shallow understanding of trends in costs and support for coal against ‘new’ renewable solar and wind power in the world would tell him that his support of coal is on the wrong side of history.

  • brucelee

    We Love Coal

    http://www.tai.org.au/gas-coal-watch

    oh wait …

  • My_Oath

    Yep… he has no shame.

  • Ken Dyer

    The LNP COALition in general and Matt Canavan in particular are seriously deluded if they think that their stance on coal will get them re-elected.

    A poll in Victoria favors renewables over coal:

    https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/pledge-to-ditch-renewables-target-could-cost-guy-in-sandbelt-poll-20180323-p4z5xu.html

    Wood McKenzie which has long been the coal industry’s consultancy of choice, has reported solar power “continues to compete with — and beat — coal and natural gas.”

    https://www.woodmac.com/news/editorial/7-solar-trends-utility-companies-need-to-know

    In Western Australia, the Muja power plant has closed down, after the WA government finally gave up trying to resurrect the 1960’s power plant, but not before hundreds of millions of dollars was wasted.

    https://thewest.com.au/business/muja-ab-closure-to-cost-20m-ng-b88783328z

    So keep on loving coal Mr Canavan, because it virtually guarantees that the voters will not re-elect you or your government. After all, people who inhabit an alternate reality, as you do, are considered to be strange.

  • Nick D

    Giles you can compare oil and Australian coal using this article to get a point across about moving away from “depending” on our coal reserves.

    https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/softbank-saudi-arabia-announce-massive-solar-power-project-54061893.

  • Radbug

    Forget about Canavan, focus on Jason Clare.

  • Ian

    If only Matt could equally consider the infinite wind and solar resources he might see things more objectively

  • Nick Kemp

    ““Unfortunately, there’s a very small minority voice… a small, loud minor voice that want to dictate to the rest of the country their view.”

    Would that be the LNP?

  • trackdaze

    I fail to see how painting the australian economy into 1960s corner is going to do Australia any favours.

    We already rank ~80th in terms of economic diversity/ sophistication . Since then the LNP practically chased the motor vehicle industry out of the country.

  • RobertO

    HI All, one minor point that I missed when I read this story. Mattie beleive in mining and so do I. Mattie thinks the Coal is so important that he winds up saying he supports it. I support some mining (mostly automated) for minerials that we as human beings need such as copper, and all the other metal or minerials that we need for supporting the human race. Coal is not one and as such it need to be left in the ground (allowing for the timeframe we need to swap to RE). In simple terms he still a dangerious RWNJ that need to go whe it comes to coal

  • Gregory Hans Moeliker

    what an idiot!

  • RobertO

    Hi All, What do John Pierce and Matt Canavan have in common?

    They are both “Economist”

    From Wikipedia I copied this.

    “An economist is a practitioner in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy. Within this field there are many sub-fields, ranging from the broad philosophical theories to the focused study of minutiae within specific markets, macroeconomic analysis, microeconomic analysis or financial statement analysis, involving analytical methods and tools such as econometrics, statistics, economics computational models, financial economics, mathematical finance and mathematical economics.”

    I still cannot work out how an automated mine can employ 17,000 people?
    I cannot work how a new HELE Coal power station will keep Australia within its so called Paris Climate Agreement when you lower the CO2 by about some 5% – 10%. It must be all in the maths 1 + 1 = 3 (or maybe 5)