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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

9 November 2006

Kim Beazley's Labor votes against Hunter Valley coal

The Australian Labor Party has abandoned Hunter Valley and Newcastle working families in a misguided approach on climate change.

Last night the Labor dominated Newcastle City Council voted against coal mining in the Hunter Valley in what can only be described as a bizarre example of extremism gone mad.

The council moved seven motions, all aimed at sending the Newcastle coal industry packing. The motions resolved to:

“establish a cap on coal exports from Newcastle at existing levels”.
“initiate a moratorium on new coal mines”
“establish a levy on the coal industry”

Newcastle and its nearby towns and communities have been built on coal. More than 5,000 families in Newcastle and the Hunter rely on coal mining for jobs and yet in one stroke the Newcastle City Council would shut Newcastle down and dispatch these people to the dustbin of history.

But this is not the first time Beazley’s Labor has taken a doctrinaire approach to the Hunter Valley coal industry. In May this year Federal Labor Member for Charlton Kelly Hoare wrote to me advocating the end of coal mining in the Hunter Valley. She wrote:

“The Hunter is one of the world’s carbon capitals and home to a rapacious mining industry”, and that the proposed “Anvil Hill [coal mine] is a key part of the Hunter Valley Coal export expansion which needs to be stopped if the world is to avoid climate change.”

It is truly ironic that the Labor councilors of the Newcastle Council would deliver this damnation of coal the same week that the International Energy Agency announced that—not withstanding great gains in renewable technologies such as solar—fossil fuels will continue to account for a large proportion of the world's energy needs in fifty years time.

As anyone who is serious about climate change knows, ‘clean coal’ not ‘no coal’ is one of the key planks in the global battle against greenhouse.

This attack by Newcastle Council is led by the left of the Labor Party in thrall with its bed fellows in the extreme green movement.

The Howard Government recognises the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally and understands that renewables and nuclear will also play their part. That is why the Howard Government is rolling out $500 million in low emission technologies, which will leverage more than $1 billion from the private sector to prove up the technologies which will give us the breakthroughs we need.

Until the Australian Labor Party recognises that solving climate change will not be fixed by simply shutting down the economies of power-house regions such as the Hunter Valley, the Gippsland region of Victoria, the Bowen Basin of Queensland and the Collie region of WA, Kim Anthony Albanese and Peter Garrett cannot be taken seriously on this vital issue.

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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