Prime Minister Tony Abbott helped open BHP Billiton’s Caval Ridge Mine in Central Queensland this week, which is expected to produce 5.5 million tonnes of metallurgical coal a year. At the event Abbott made it clear where he and the country stands on the issue of coal.
“Coal is good for humanity, coal is good for prosperity, coal is an essential part of our economic future, here in Australia, and right around the world.”
The comments, which unsurprisingly angered environmentalists, come shortly after China levies new, stricter tariffs on coal imports. According to industry analysts, Australia could lose hundreds of millions of dollar annually due to the sanctions.
Australia is reaching the end of its negotiations for new free trade regulations with China, although the announcement of new tariffs could extend them out a bit more. Instead of commenting on China’s new harsh move, Abbott praised Japan and its relationship with Australia in the coal industry.
"This is a sign of hope and confidence in the future of the coal industry, it's a great industry, we've had a great partnership with Japan in the coal industry,” Abbott said. Australia reached a historic free trade agreement with Japan in April of this year.
Environmentalists weren’t the only group unsatisfied with Abbott’s alliance to the commodity. The United Nations’ top climate official, as well as advisors and economists the world over disagree with Australia’s focus on coal, especially as the world is “moving towards taking real action on climate change,” said Bill Shorten, opposition leader. Some are even claiming that the country’s reliance on coal is an economic “suicide strategy,” and potentially economically dangerous and short-sighted.
But the talk hasn’t deterred Abbott from his stance.
"Energy is what sustains our prosperity, and coal is the world's principal energy source and it will be for many decades to come.If you want to sustain the coal industry, if you want to sustain the jobs, if you want to sustain the towns that depend on the coal industry you have got to support the Coalition, because we support coal, we think that coal has a big future as well as a big past."
Information sourced from the Sunday Morning Herald.