Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Banking and Financial Services
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the ability to secure finance and insurance is a crucial step in the development of large-scale resources projects, providing protection for developers, government and the community,
(ii) Suncorp last week announced that it would no longer invest in, finance or insure new thermal coal mines and power plants, and will not underwrite any existing thermal coal projects after 2025,
(iii) QBE Insurance announced in March that, from 1 July 2019, it would no longer directly invest in or insure new thermal coal projects and would stop underwriting existing operations from 2030,
(iv) all Australian-based insurance companies have now effectively committed to removing coal from their investment portfolios, and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) pay attention to the financial signals and recognise that thermal coal projects are increasingly unviable, and
(ii) commit to action to progress a rapid and just transition to clean and renewable energy sources for a low-carbon economy.
The coal industry is far from unviable. Coal continues to be the mainstay of many regional economies and a major driver of exports and the Australian economy. Companies are continuing to invest in new coal projects, and coal was the largest total export earner in 2018, valued at $67 billion. The International Energy Agency's World energy outlook 2018 predicts that global coal demand will grow out to 2040 by 1.6 per cent and that Australia will have a growing share of that trade. The coal industry employed 53,300 Australians in 2017-18 and pays more than $5 billion annually in royalties.
Labor won't be supporting this motion. It's premised on inaccurate economic assumptions. On that basis, we reject it. Labor appreciates that markets will continue to drive increased investment in renewable technologies.
Companies are withdrawing because of aggressive campaigns to smear and vilify investors. They are based on lies—lies about the future prospects of the coal industry and about the future prospects of the intermittent industry, otherwise known as renewables. We also notice that subsidies are distorting the market and destroying the market for coal. We also know that operating rules supporting intermittents unfairly weigh the game to the intermittent energy industry. This is just the Greens' standard modus operandi for destroying a very healthy and essential industry.