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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 7164


Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (15:36): I want to also take note that we had no answers from ministers to questions from Labor senators. If you had hibernated for a few years and woke up now, you wouldn't believe the nonsense argument we are having in this country, the lack of inaction. Who would have thought Australia, the lucky country, would have one of the most ridiculous, soulless, gutless positions about our energy supply. We are a nation that is blessed with gas, coal, minerals, energy and fuel, and yet we have one of the lamest governments that we have ever had in this space.

I want to make one thing very clear—and I speak as Senator Glenn Sterle from WA, myself: I'm not anti-coal. But I have to cop abuse all the time because the Greens have got into this spin about how evil and dirty and filthy coal is. They don't care about the jobs that come off the end of it. We all agree we have to do something to lower the temperature of the planet because it's heating, and we have to do something to reduce man-made emissions. No-one is arguing about that. But what a ridiculous position we find ourselves in now. In fact, if you were a visitor to this country, you would wonder how we ever got out of the Dark Ages, out of the caves—for crying out loud.

While the Greens are attacking coal and fossil fuels, they don't mind the air-conditioned Commonwealth cars that bring them here each morning or having the heaters on at this time of year. I don't see too many of them riding a pushbike from their home states to Canberra. They all enjoy the luxury of a Qantas or a Virgin flight. Guess what? That burns a fossil fuel too. I can't believe I'm taking note of this sort of nonsense.

To get to the crux of the matter, I opened the front page of one of today's papers and found that a green group have been successful in the courts and possibly halted the production of coal from the Springvale mine. I don't even know where the Springvale mine is; I have never been there. But I do know it employs 600 people. I do know that the Mount Piper power station is one of newer coal-fired power stations—and I know because I read the paper, and correct me if I'm wrong—and that it supplies energy to 15 per cent of New South Wales, to one million people. I do know the Springvale mine is their only supplier of coal. I do know it is a ridiculous situation that this judge has sided with the green group to possibly put them all out of the business. I know this isn't federal, but it's tied in with the same debate, and the lack of action in the federal scene is compounding it and making it worse.

I see that the manager is trying to get something from the New South Wales government. Hopefully, there is some legislation that can override the stupidity that's gone through the court with this announcement about shutting down the coal supply. But this is the best that the New South Wales energy minister can say—and I am going to quote; I don't read speeches too often but I want to get it right:

NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin would not say what action was available to the government in the event of an adverse decision and said the government was waiting the outcome of the court hearings.

God almighty, how wishy-washy is that!

But the true problem is that that side of parliament has an internal intifada between former Prime Minister Mr Abbott and the now Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull. I heard a whisper that this week is the two-year anniversary of the election of Mr Turnbull since rolling Mr Abbott. I didn't hear the corks popping and didn't see the streamers flying out of the building. I can understand why. I would be a bit embarrassed. We were just as embarrassed when we were in government. The only good thing about our situation is they both left parliament and now we can get on business. You guys have to start standing up. For crying out loud, you know you need some leadership. You are the government. We can't be threatened with blackouts in the lucky country. You use this nonsense argument against South Australia: that it's South Australia's problem. We'll see how smart everyone is when we get to summer and, all of a sudden, the air-conditioners and freezers can't come on and all the food is thrown out.

In this day and age, are we really serious that we're proud of us as a nation when we can't even get any leadership to get our energy sources correct? God Almighty! I remember looking at a map on the wall of Shell when I was a removalist back in the seventies. I said to the person at Shell, 'What are all the coloured dots around the country?' I was only about 17. He said, 'They're all our uncapped wells. We are rich with oil and rich with fuel.' And here we are in the ridiculous situation we find ourselves in. We don't even know what the hell the— (Time expired)