31 May 2019
RAY HADLEY: Wanted to have a quick chat with the Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor. I spoke about the dwindling coal supply at Mount Piper Power Station. It's in the New South Wales Central West, about 25 k from Lithgow. The power station is fuelled using black coal sourced from local mines. Now, I told you when they first started business Energy Australia had six mines to supply the coal. Now it's down to one, Springvale Mine. The company is very worried about the ability to supply power, and says the station has generated 42 per cent less electricity than the same time last year. They supply 15 per cent of the state. Angus Taylor, what do we do about it? Good morning.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, thanks for having me, Ray. Look, at this is a major issue. The past attempts to get extensions to this coal mine and other adjacent coal mines have been thwarted by activists who don't want coal mines being built. We're taking a different approach. One of the first things I said when I was sworn in just this week - earlier this week - as the Energy and Emissions Minister is that I'm going to focus on working with state governments to get these planning approvals through faster. You've seen what we've done with Adani. I mean, we got that approval through the federal process as quickly as we could. In that case, we've had a recalcitrant state government in Queensland, and we've acted to put pressure on them.
Now the good news in New South Wales is I don't think we have a recalcitrant state government. I think they want to solve this problem too, I've spoken with John Barilaro, the Deputy Premier, and Matt Kean, who's the Energy Minister, as well as the chief executive of Energy Australia. There is a strong will now to solve this problem as quickly as possible. We can't get in the way, Ray, of getting new coal resources available for power stations, or for export for that matter. Yes, we've got to go through environmental processes, but this has been ridiculous. Activists have actually got in the way, the Environmental Defenders Office has got in the way and we've got to resolve it quickly. I'll work closely with my state colleagues and the company to make sure it happens.
RAY HADLEY: What about more coal-fired power stations? I mean, this is one. This is one.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, absolutely. Yeah, no it is. Look, the first priority is to keep the coal up to our existing coal-fired power stations and to keep them open. So whether it's Mount Piper, getting the coal to that. It's a new power station, it has a lot of life left in it. We've got to keep the coal up to this. Or keeping Liddell in the market. That is the first priority because that puts the biggest downward pressure on prices and, of course, shores up reliability. But in time there has to be new generation coming into the market, and we're doing work right now on Collinsville in Queensland. Central Northern Queensland has been a real problem with affordability of power. You saw it in the election result how important this issue is in Central Northern Queensland, so we're focused on that initially. We're focused on an upgrade to Vales Point in the Hunter Valley, and no doubt in time there will be others.
RAY HADLEY: When do you make the call on Liddell and say to the owners, no, you're not closing it, it's going to stay open? When do you make that- when do you take it over, in other words?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah. No, good point. Look, we've made very clear to them they either completely replace it with equivalent affordable, reliable power or they keep it going. It's as simple as that.
RAY HADLEY: Now what if they don't? What if they don't? Minister, what if they don't? What if they tell you chew on your boot, we're not doing it?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, that's exactly why we are putting to the Parliament, as a matter of priority, legislation that will give us the power to deal with that situation which we didn't have when Hazelwood closed. Now there's been opposition to this from the energy companies, you can understand that. But we need these big stick powers to be able to say to the energy companies, look you simply can't close this, or if you're going to you need to allow a third party to take it over, someone else who does want to run it. So that legislation is really crucial. It will matter for Liddell. Labor has opposed it 13 times, Ray. It's time for Labor to recognise they've lost the election. We've put this up as an election policy. It's crucial for Liddell, and we are determined to get it through the Parliament.
RAY HADLEY: Okay. Thanks for your time as always.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks Ray.
RAY HADLEY: Minister for Energy, Emissions Reduction federally, Angus Taylor.