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Matt Canavan Olive Downs

Over the past year I have attended the official opening of two new coal mines. I have been a Senator for 10 years and do not think I have ever seen two coal mines open in one year.

The Olive Downs mine, in the Bowen Basin, will employ more than 1000 people and export steelmaking coal to the world while providing an anticipated $10 billion in royalties to the Queensland Government. There is no doubt that building a new mine through the thicket of red tape, higher taxes and climate obsessed activists is becoming tougher and tougher. But what the opening of Olive Downs shows is that these hurdles can be overcome given the enormous demand for high quality coal in our region.

Over the past month, our Prime Minister has travelled around Australia splashing taxpayer cash on “green” projects. Many times he has claimed that these new projects are needed as the world “transitions” away from coal.

You can tell that the Government does not spend much time coal communities because they talk as if they are places of economic ruin. Anyone that lives and works in these areas knows that business has been booming as coal demand reaches new highs. We do not need handouts to thrive. We just need governments to get out of the way and let the new mines open that can meet the demand for our product and guarantee the future of our communities.

You can tell that our Canberra elite know nothing of coal markets because they march on despite the news that last year more new coal power stations came online in any year since 2016. In 2023, 70 gigawatts of new coal fired power stations were built. While 20 gigawatts of old coal fired power stations were retired, this still represents around 50 new coal fired power stations in one year.

While China continues to dominate this increase, accounting for two-thirds – of the new additions, there were significant increases in coal capacity in Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and South Korea. Even if you take China out of the equation, more coal power stations were opened in 2023 than were closed.

Only three countries in the world retired more than 1 gigawatt of coal fired power without bringing new coal power stations online. The US was one of these countries, but they are just shifting from one form of fossil fuels (coal) to another (shale gas). The UK was another one as its manufacturing industry continues its slow death. The UK cannot make steel from scratch now.

The final country was Australia as we shut the Lidell coal fired power station. We are constantly told that the world is “transitioning” away from coal. That is just a lie and it is actually Australia that is out of step with the world by shutting down our coal fired power stations without building new ones.

Our leaders are trying to force coal communities into a transition we never asked for. It is the work and wealth produced in these coal communities that is keeping the coffers in Canberra full. The least Canberra politicians could do is to say thanks and support our massive opportunities to grow coal jobs.

Hon Matt Canavan

Senator for QLD

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