Coalition backbenchers push for coal

A group of Coalition backbenchers are pushing for more coal-fired generation in Australia.

The group of 20 MPs, named the Monash Forum, includes Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews and George Christensen.

The group have formed an alliance against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his national energy guarantee (NEG).

The Monash Forum wants the government to build a $4 billion Hazelwood 2.0 power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, as well as the adopt ‘clean coal technology’ to existing power stations.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly said the group wanted to “emphasise the importance of coal-fired generation”.

“Coal is demonised by a large section of the community – that demonisation is incorrect, because coal is absolutely vital to the national economy both for export and the generation of cheap, reliable electricity,” he said, according to The Guardian.

Mr Turnbull told reporters in Brisbane yesterday the NEG put a premium on “dispatchability”, which could be delivered by coal, gas, pumped hydro or other technologies.

“There are those who are concerned that there should be more investment in coal-fired power stations,” he said.

“The national energy guarantee puts a premium on dispatchability, 24/7 power.

“Now coal can obviously provide that, so can gas, so can hydro, so can other technologies.”

Energy expert Professor Andrew Stock slammed the new group and its push for coal.

“Coal is always polluting, regardless of how it’s branded – whether the technology is ‘ultra super critical’, ‘high efficiency low emissions’ or ‘carbon capture and storage’,” he said.

“Why are we putting our faith in old clunkers from last century? Australia must look to the future and modernise its grid through clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technology.

“Renewables are now far cheaper than coal.”

The group is named after the first world war general John Monash, who played a role in bringing coal production to Victoria.