A verbal brawl that threatens to tear the Coalition apart has erupted between Liberals and Nationals over the possibility of a Queensland coal power station.
A verbal brawl that threatens to tear the Coalition apart has erupted between Liberals and Nationals over the possibility of a Queensland coal power station.

War of words threatens to tear Coalition apart

A VERBAL brawl has erupted between inner-city Liberals and Queensland Federal Nationals over the Morrison Government funding a feasibility study for a coal-fired power station in Collinsville.

In the blue corner is Wentworth MP Dave Sharma and North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman, who have come out swinging as loud Nationals trumpet the need for the Government to underwrite the new power plant.

In the Green corner are Nationals renegades Matt Canavan, now unshackled from Cabinet solidarity after stepping down from the front bench, and Dawson MP George Christensen.

With Parliament sitting today, it is likely others from both sides will pile on.

The brouhaha started after Senator Canavan opined in today's Courier-Mail the need for a new coal-fired generator at Collinsville to protect manufacturing jobs. He also labelled renewables "dole bludgers" of the energy system because they only turned up for work when they wanted to.

Senator Matt Canavan is calling for a new coal-fired power station at Collinsville. Picture By Steve Vit
Senator Matt Canavan is calling for a new coal-fired power station at Collinsville. Picture By Steve Vit

It sparked Mr Sharma to tell Sky News this morning: "I can't see us being in a position where the Government is underwriting a new coal fired power station.

"Certainly there's a case to be made and I support it for extending the life of existing coal fired power assets, and if the private sector wants to come in and do this well this is a different proposition, but I don't think the government should be in the position of doing this." he said.

But Mr Christensen, used to having political biffs, hit back.

"Despite claims by one inner-city Liberal MP on Sky News this morning, the Morrison Liberal National Government is providing funding to coal-fired power projects, principally because they provide stable and reliable baseload supply.

Dave Sharma argues a new coal-fired power station wouldn’t be a good look for the government. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Dave Sharma argues a new coal-fired power station wouldn’t be a good look for the government. Picture: Jonathan Ng

"The North Queensland clean coal-fired power plant is something that various Morrison Liberal National Government MPs, Senators and Ministers backed during the 2019 election and support for that project elicited strong public support for the LNP in crucial seats like Herbert, Dawson, Capricornia and Flynn.

"These seats have allowed us to retain government. It is therefore very encouraging to read recent reports that the Prime Minister has stated he will not be bullied by inner-city interests when it comes to climate policy and his support for reliable and affordable power."

But Mr Zimmerman backed up his fellow blue-blood, saying "We are doing a feasibility study.

"We have no commitment to fund a coal fired power station and I don't think we should.

"From my perspective, it's not the business of the Commonwealth government to be building or funding coal fired power stations.

"I don't think we should be funding coal fired power stations it's not the job of the Commonwealth government. It's up to the private sector. It's up to the Queensland Government who has responsibility for doing the type of planning." he said.

Nationals George Christensen is in favour of the new power station. Picture Gary Ramage
Nationals George Christensen is in favour of the new power station. Picture Gary Ramage

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham also had a go at Senator Canavan for calling renewables the "dole bludgers" of the energy sector.

"No, renewables are a crucial part of our new technology mix," he told Sky News.

"They are highly competitive in many parts of the world and Australians have chosen to vote with their feet in terms of endorsing the placement of solar panels on their rooftops."

Senator Canavan tweeted, "I see some are saying that we should not help coal fired power stations provide jobs because we should leave it to the market. Well if that's the view be consistent and argue against the billions (of dollars) we give to renewables every year".

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham. Picture: Keri Megelus
Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham. Picture: Keri Megelus

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull also weighed in, saying: "There's no economic basis to build a coal-fired power station in Australia any longer.

"Those people who are advocating that the Government should fund coal fired power are basically making a case for higher emissions and higher energy prices and that is nuts."