Various media outlets reported this week that at least 22 Coalition MPs spent Tuesday’s joint party room meeting voicing their concern about the proposed Clean Energy Target.

With the numbers supposedly evenly divided between the Liberals and the Nationals, it’s worth taking note of exactly who among the Liberals is on the record as being BFFs with coal. So here are the defenders of coal, in their own words:

Tony Abbott 

The former PM is still ardently attached to the rock he’s described as good for humanity.

Abbott told Ray Hadley on Monday, June 12:

“If you are rewarding one type of energy, inevitably that money has to come from somewhere; either from consumers or tax payers. If it’s from consumers then it’s effectively a tax on coal and that’s the last thing we want.”

Kevin Andrews

Kevin Andrew’s wrote on his blog on Wednesday, June 14 about coal’s past and future success:

 “The development of brown coal mining and the generation of electricity in the valley a century ago is a testament to the foresight of previous generations of Australians. Similarly, the development of the gas and oil reserves off the coast of Gippsland contributed to our continuing prosperity. “The economic development of Victoria is built on the generation of cheap, reliable power. This will be as true for the future as it has been for the past.”

Ian Macdonald

Back in April 27, 2016 the Queensland Senator tweeted about coal’s positive impact on dental hygiene, “For those who always denigrate coal, here is another plus it brings in addition to electricity & good living #auspol”:

Craig Kelly

Craig Kelly wasted little time after the Finkel review was released telling his Facebook followers on June 10 what he thinks about coal:

“No, I’m not ‘pro-coal’.   

“What I am is ‘pro-affordable electricity’, I’m also ‘pro-reliable electricity’ but most of all I’m ‘pro-internationally competitive electricity’.”

“Low cost, abundant and reliable electricity was the competitive advantage that has under-written our nation’s prosperity for decades, and given Australia the ability to afford to pay for our world class hospitals, schools, and aged care centres – to give those with disabilities dignity and fair go. “If we surrender that competitive advantage, through drinking the green Kool-Aid – we simply won’t be able to afford the hospitals, the schools and the age care centres that we expect.” 

Andrew Hastie

Hastie told his Facebook followers on January 20 about coal’s importance to Western Australia:

“Labor’s reckless renewable targets will drive up the cost of living, kill jobs, and threaten energy security.

“Australian families cannot afford it. We are most vulnerable in WA given our isolation. Our resources economy depends on low-cost, secure energy. And unlike SA, we can’t draw on Victorian power if the lights go out.”

Chris Back

The retiring Western Australian Liberal told Parliament on February 14 that there’s a lot to be said for Australian coal:

“If Australia did nothing else but ensure the sale of our high-energy low-emission coal to China to replace their low-energy high-emitting coal, we would be doing the world the greatest service. We only produce 1.5 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases ourselves.”

Rowan Ramsey

The South Australian Liberal tweeted on June 5 about the Adani coal mine’s importance for his constituents: “Adani approval = $74m rail order for Arrium. Supporting jobs in Whyalla”.

Russell Broadbent

Broadbent represents those workers who lost their jobs when Hazelwood Power Station closed, and he reasserted coal’s future on March 17, 2016:

“There will, over time, be a transition in the Latrobe Valley stationary energy sector. We know that. It is mainly because of ageing infrastructure and a fall in demand in the national electricity market. But, for at least the next 30 to 50 years, coal will remain a major source of electricity generation.

“That is because it is cheap, it is reliable and it is available in abundance. A power station employs thousands of people, both directly and indirectly. We all agree that moving to a low-emission future is necessary. We are doing that as a government right now.”

Angus Taylor 

On November 15, 2015, Taylor wrote in The Australian why we needed to stick with coal for the time being:

“We need a better-paced approach that recognises our strong population growth and our focus on relatively low-emission commodity exports. It will allow time for the cost of renewable technologies (and crucial storage technologies) to fall while old sectors adjust at a reasonable pace. It means giving businesses time to find innovative energy efficiency solutions while we improve our understanding of land-use impacts on carbon storage. Most important, it will bring the public on the journey.”

Tony Pasin

Pasin told 7.30 on June 13 that Finkel was asking Australians to “make a quantum leap of faith” away from coal:

“I’m not sure that it’s good science or good politics. What I’m focused on is lower costs, lower emissions and higher levels of reliability.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey