PM faces Queensland MP backlash on power
PRIME Minister Scott Morrison faces a backlash from regional Queensland MPs over his shift towards renewable energy, with a group of marginal seat holders demanding the Government underwrite a coal-fired power station.
Six Queensland MPs have backed calls for "immediate action" to underwrite a new generator to compete with state-owned generators.
The letter, obtained by The Courier-Mail, reveals simmering anger among Queensland Nationals over the Government's shelved plans for "big stick" laws to break up energy companies if they price gouge.
The MPs, who were behind a push for coal-fired power in return for their support for the National Energy Guarantee, have written to Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack and Energy Minister Angus Taylor demanding steps to drive down power prices in regional Queensland.
LNP MP Keith Pitt wrote the letter, which was co-signed by MPs George Christensen, Michelle Landry, Ken O'Dowd, Llew O'Brien and Barry O'Sullivan.
They argue regional Queensland will not benefit from plans to put downward pressure on prices unless there is an option to take on the state monopoly through the threat of asset sales or a new private sector generator.
"We congratulate the Government on the 'big stick' legislation proposal and underwri-ting policy for new power station construction," the letter says. "Without divestiture powers, in our view, no action can be taken which would cause Queensland Labor to reduce power prices."
The MPs call for the Government to bring back its "big stick" laws in the final three-day sitting in Budget week.
They also demand "immediate action … to underwrite new generating capacity (power station) construction for regional Queensland".
Mr Taylor is considering 66 proposals for power stations submitted after the Government offered to underwrite investment in new baseload power, including 12 in Queensland. Mr Pitt said he would support any form of new power generation as long as it was "reliable and affordable".
But Mr O'Dowd said HELE coal-fired plants in Queensland, NSW and Victoria should be backed to increase supply.
"I think we should start with a coal-fired power station in each of the states," he said.
Power baron Trevor St Baker's proposals for HELE coal-fired plants in NSW and Victoria are among those being considered.
It comes after investment firm Kaisun Holdings told the Hong Kong stock exchange it had signed a deal to develop two coal-fired power stations in the Hunter region of NSW.
Mr McCormack said the Government would consider the matters when Parliament resumed in April but did not commit to backing the reintroduction of the "big stick" laws.
Mr Taylor said the Government was "carefully considering all proposals". He said the "big stick" proposal was still Government policy and said Labor should back it.