Australian coal industry has future: Climate Change Minister

13:21, September 13, 2010      

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Australia's newly appointed Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, on Monday vowed to fight for coal industry jobs, as he pursues a price on carbon.

The former Australian Council of Trade Unions leader has predicted the coal industry "absolutely" has a future, as he pursues his three key policy reform objectives: pursuing renewable energy, energy efficiency and the development of carbon price for Australia.

As part of its deal to secure government, Labor signed a formal alliance with the Greens, whose policies include the eventual phasing out of the coal industry, Australia's biggest export earner.

Greens leader Bob Brown has described Australia as being like a heroin addict "feeding the habit" of the world's reliance on coal. The party's stated policy is to oppose development of any new coal- mines or the expansion of existing coal-mines and to phase out all existing coal subsidies. It wanted to work towards stopping the development and granting of export licenses for all new coal-mines.

But in an interview with The Australian, Combet said his background as a former coal engineer, union official and Member of Parliament (MP) with coal workers in his New South Wales electorate, meant he did not believe his job was to shut down the coal industry.

"I don't agree with that. That's not part of my job at all," Combet told The Australian newspaper on Monday.

"I am acutely aware of the challenges that this policy presents. But people jump to these absolute positions, and I just don't think that's appropriate.

"I've got a responsibility to support those people's jobs. The coal industry is a very vibrant industry with a strong future. What you've got to do is look to how we can achieve in the longer term things like carbon capture and storage for coal-fired power stations."

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:祁澍文)

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