In light of the news that KORES plans to sell it's majority stake in the Wallarah 2 coal mine, Abigail today stood in parliament to discuss the urgent need to support coal communities as the transition to renewables continues to gather speed.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (15:12): On 6 January 2020 Korean news reported that Korea Resources Corporation [KORES] plans to sell its 82.25 per cent stake in the Wallarah 2 coal mine. A mine that was approved by this State Government; a mine that has caused irreparable damage to the drinking water catchment for more than 340,000 people who live on the Central Coast. KORES is $6.1 billion in debt. Despite all the promises to the community, despite all the angst the project has caused the community for the last two decades, it now wants to pack it all in and sell. Wallarah 2 will be difficult to sell because there is no future in coal. Global coal markets have plummeted. Ships carrying millions of tonnes of coal are queued up off the coast of China—and have been since November. The International Energy Agency [IEA] stated that 2020 saw the largest drop in coal consumption since the Second World War, and not just because of COVID.
Coal markets peaked in 2013 and they are expected to flatten forever from 2025 when the IEA says renewables will replace coal as the largest source of power generation globally. The writing is on the wall for coal. Currently 85 per cent of the coal export trade goes to countries that now have net zero emissions targets. Governments must plan for the near future when these countries no longer want our coal. Communities that currently depend on coal know that coal is coming to an end and they are starting to make their own plans. They deserve our support. There have been some fantastic large-scale renewables projects announced. Industry, universities, local councils and private households are doing their bit to transition away from fossil fuels, despite the New South Wales and Federal governments doing their best to keep Australia addicted to coal.
It is not enough to leave this to the market or the community or councils. Good economic management requires that this Government shepherds workers and communities into new sustainable industries before the end of the coal industry, not after. This requires increased TAFE funding to provide training opportunities for workers to reskill and upskill, funding to boost emerging local industries, financial assistance packages for regions, early retirement options and community-wide support so that no-one is left behind. It must start now before communities are in decline. The longer you wait, the harder and less just this transition will be for the people affected. There must be a fair, just, rapid transition away from coal towards a clean, healthy and safe future. Anything less is an abrogation of responsibility. Anything less is gambling with public money, our health, the environment, Australia's liveability and workers' livelihoods.