Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek moderated Seven’s breakfast show for the first major political interview of the day sunrise.
The Labor Party frontbencher was backed by former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.
The couple were asked about reports that Plibersek intends to block a proposed coal mine owned by billionaire Clive Palmer amid concerns the project could have “unacceptable impacts” on the Great Barrier Reef.
As regular readers of this blog will know, new coal and gas projects have been in the spotlight lately as the Albanian government has been locked in negotiations with the Greens and Blue-Green Independents over their signing of the climate law.
Here’s what Plibersek had to say about it:
Well we are still in the 10 day consultation before the decision is final so I have to be careful what I say. The reason I suggest blocking this is as follows [the mine] is less than 10km from the Great Barrier Reef and is having a significant impact [on] water [and] also the country. I won’t say too much about it because the decision is open to consultation. And I want to give everyone their opinion before I say anything further… [but] The Great Barrier Reef is worth about $6.4 billion in tourism in a good year before COVID and supports 54,000 jobs.
And here was Joyce’s attitude:
That’s an opinion. I respect the process. [But] Let’s look at our deficits. They might be tough on coal and gas exports, which really help a nation, so we have to be really careful about saying the word no. We need to understand the reality we are in and we want to get as strong as possible and as fast as possible [because of what’s happening in Ukraine and around Taiwan] and that means we have to make money. We need to get a little harder and harder in our thinking.
The mining industry makes multiples [the reef’s $6.4b annually]. Well over $100 billion [in] coal alone. So compare the two. Destroy the Great Barrier Reef, nobody wants that. But if we keep stopping projects, we need to understand what we’re doing.
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