BARNABY Joyce says a report by the nation’s consumer watchdog vindicates the call from the Nationals for more coal-fired power stations.
The ACCC has release it’s final Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry report, which found that “most households are paying too much for energy”, and outlines a way forward.
One of the recommendations in the report says the government should “support bankable new investment by new players in generation capacity to help commercial and industrial customers, and drive competition”.
“What they’re saying is that you’ve got to get more base load on to the market – which is coal-fired power,” the New England MP said.
Mr Joyce said while the government would not fund a new power station, it could give certainty to any company who wished to build one, by offering them a ‘put option’ on the energy they produce.
“We would say to base-load power suppliers, of which coal is the biggest, that we will assure you of the price over that you get over the long term,” Mr Joyce said.
“It’s creating the environment for cheaper electricity, by securing the price.
“They’re always worried about what happens if regulations change. If we give them certainty that this strike price means you’re not going to go below that.”
A number of National MPs, along with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have been calling for government-owned and funded coal-fired power stations.
But Mr Joyce distanced himself from Mr Abbott, who critics say has been grandstanding his personal views.
“I’m not in Tony Abbott’s camp, I’m in the National party camp,” Mr Joyce said.
“I don’t see it as a Tony versus Malcolm thing. That’s not the game plan. The game plan for me is to get power prices down for people in regional Australia.”
Our own backyard the perfect place of a new power station
Barnaby Joyce said the New England or North West would be the ideal spot to put a new coal-fired power station.
“They're already digging the coal up and burning it overseas, might has well get a kick back,” Mr Joyce said.
“Here's an astounding idea, how about we use the coal to produce power for our own people.
“They are going to continue to mine coal in Australia, that is a reality. The state government will always want coal because the royalties from it are one of their biggest revenue streams
“One of the biggest mines in NSW is Maules Creek, in our backyard.
“I'm sure Whitehaven doesn't care who they sell the coal to. If you set up a coal-fired power station in Gunnedah, I'm sure they'd sell to them.
“For our area, our proximity to the coal would mean one of the surest places for strong electricity place at an affordable price would be Tamworth. Our industrial capacity will go through the roof.”
Mr Joyce said he was both a coal and renewable energy supporter.
“Renewables play a part, but they can't do the whole thing - you can't just have peas for dinner, but you need greens in your dinner,” Mr Joyce said.
“To support the renewable industry, as odd as it is, we've got to support the base-load industry, because otherwise it will fall over.”