Reps
Reps

It’s time southerners stopped meddling in our future

THERE are fewer things more irritating than an inner-city Liberal telling Queenslanders what they should and should not have.

Take North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman (whose own colleagues jokingly ask if he is in Australia given his penchant for overseas junkets). On Monday, Zimmerman poo-pooed the idea of the Government underwriting a new coal-fired generator in Collinsville.

Zimmerman must forget that it was a Government election commitment for a feasibility study for a coal-fired power station.

He also must have amnesia about the election result or about Bob Brown's failed convoy to Clermont to stop Adani. The Federal LNP now holds 23 out of 30 Queensland seats.

Queenslanders - especially in Dawson, Capricornia and Flynn - voted for the Government in part for this. There is no coal-fired power station north of Rockhampton. There's no competition for those in north Queensland, who are lumped with one energy provider.

City slickers can ring their electricity companies and ask for a better deal. North Queenslanders can't.

But there is also a bigger issue at play - and that is about jobs and the economy. Manufacturing in central Queensland can be very energy intensive. Right now, renewables do not cut it.

More than a decade ago, when I sat in the Canberra Press Gallery and pored over the Garnaut Review into Climate Change - and then went to work as an adviser for the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong - it was crystal clear emissions-intensive-trade-exposed industries needed compensation under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

Without it, there would be carbon leakage; that is, businesses would face higher energy costs because of climate change policies and would move offshore to a country that does not have a tax or cost to pollute.

The problem for businesses that are energy hungry is they will be at breaking point if electricity prices continue to be expensive. Renewables cannot be used solely for aluminium smelters. A smelter must be on all the time.

Given our high wages and energy costs, there will be another type of business leakage - that is companies going offshore because of the lack of a generator. Our aluminium smelters are first in line but they will be followed by zinc and copper. Lose copper and say goodbye to Mount Isa.

There is an argument that if it was profitable a new coal-fired generator would be done by the private sector.

But no business is going to make that type of investment if they cannot be sure what their carbon liability will be in five or 10 years.

And what we have seen in the past decade is that the issue of climate change and renewables is polarising. Taxes can be done and undone with electoral cycles. There's too much risk for business to invest, because of politics. So in the absence of bipartisanship remains the issue about jobs and economic growth in Queensland.

Zimmerman and his Wentworth colleague Dave Sharma fail to understand Queensland and this complicated debate.

How about someone chip in for some junkets for Zimmerman so he can come to Queensland?