Australian Greens' proposal to ban new coal mine arouses criticisms

08:04, May 27, 2011      

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An Australian Greens proposal to ban new coal mines on Thursday has been labeled potentially catastrophic.

Earlier this week, Greens deputy leader Christine Milne predicted the coal-seam gas industry would be a disaster for Australia and called for a ban on the development of new coal mines. The party also want to stop the development of the coal seam gas industry.

According to Director of the North Australia Project at the Institute of Public Affairs, Hugh Tobin, the huge potential in regional Australia would instead result in constant under- performance if coal mines were banned.

"Preventing new coal mines from opening would be catastrophic for the Australian economy, particularly in the North," he told Herald Sun on Thursday.

In New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia there are 50 coal projects due to start in the next three years alone."

Coal is the top export for both New South Wales and Queensland. Tobin said it contributes 8.86 billion U.S. dollars to the New South Wales economy and 21.6 billion U.S. dollars to the Queensland economy annually.

Tobin said this industry represents a huge opportunity for many regional Australian communities, which deserve the chance to benefit from this resource.

Meanwhile, Nationals senator leader Barnaby Joyce said the move showed the Greens Party has some extremely dangerous ideas.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh called the idea "radical and extreme", saying that banning new coal mines would cause "a social and economic catastrophe" in her state.

She said the ban is far-fetched and would cost thousands of jobs.

"Of course, coal is a finite resource and we need to realistically plan and invest in other forms of energy, including gas and renewable (energy), as part of fueling our future," Bligh told News Limited.

"We need to have a balance between this energy source and new energy sources.

"But a shut-down of the coal and gas industries would be a social and economic catastrophe for Queensland and Australia, costing thousands of jobs, halting investment and closing down whole communities."

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson also slapped down the demand by the Greens for a ban on new coal mines, declaring the coal industry has a bright future as a driver of economic prosperity, despite moves to tackle climate change.

Ferguson noted that if Australia abandoned coal and coal-seam gas exports, international customers would be forced to use lower- quality coal from overseas that would cause greater global levels of carbon pollution.

The Greens will hold the balance of power in the upper house from July this year.

Source: Xinhua
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