No halt to coal power feasibility study

Scott Morrison says plans for a coal-fired power station in Queensland could still become a reality.
Scott Morrison says plans for a coal-fired power station in Queensland could still become a reality.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for a new coal-fired power station in Queensland, despite endorsing a new climate policy.

Launching his plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 on Tuesday, Mr Morrison was asked about a feasibility study being conducted into a proposed coal-fired plant in Collinsville.

He said the study was due to be completed in June 2022.

"Any investments that people wish to make, well they have to meet the necessary planning and other regulatory approvals for them to go ahead," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

"They have to make sense to them commercially and if they stack up, they stack up."

He said the plant would need to meet environmental and other approvals.

"Legal investments in this country are still legal," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told parliament the fact the 2050 target would not be backed by legislation would be of benefit to coal communities in central Queensland and the NSW Hunter Valley.

"We wanted to make absolutely certain there was no legislation in there that enforced things," he said.

"Legislation brings laws, laws are enforced by penalties, and those laws and penalties put coal workers at threat, meat workers at threat, the people in the Hunter Valley at threat, people in central Queensland at threat."

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the plan would "not shut down coal or gas production".

The 129-page planning document said: "Australia's coal and gas export industries will continue through to 2050 and beyond, supporting jobs and regional communities."

However the plan said it was expected "sectors like thermal coal and natural gas ...will be affected by falling global demand and the shifting choices of international consumers".

"Coal production will remain flat or decline slightly, by around six per cent (to 2030)."

But there would be ongoing demand for Australia's high-quality coal and gas in emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific and Indo Pacific.

Australian Associated Press