At the opening of the Caval Ridge coal mine in Queensland yesterday, Abbott said coal was essential for the prosperity of the world.
“Energy is what sustains our prosperity, and coal is the world's principal energy source and it will be for many decades to come,” he said.
“Let's have no demonisation of coal.
“Coal is good for humanity, coal is good for prosperity, coal is an essential part of our economic future, here in Australia, and right around the world.”
Abbott used the occasion to spruik the values of the Coalition with regard to coal mining, showing the probable tenor of their election campaign to come in 2016.
“If you want to sustain the coal industry, if you want to sustain the jobs, if you want to sustain the towns that depend on the coal industry you have got to support the Coalition, because we support coal, we think that coal has a big future as well as a big past.”
However, Abbott’s recent comments with regard to coal have met extensive disagreement, even as far as the German Bundestag, where two weeks ago a lead advisor to German chancellor Angela Merkel described Coalition coal policy as a “suicide strategy for the Australian economy.”
ANU economist Frank Jotzo agreed with the sentiment, saying that our reliance on coal was short sighted and a “potentially dangerous economic strategy.”
“If we were to hitch our wagon to coal we would be putting the Australian economy on a downward trajectory,” he said.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said yesterday that Australia risks being seen as the climate change sceptic capital of the world.
“We've got the G20 coming up. Most nations in the world at the G20 are dealing with climate change. Yet we're the climate sceptics capital of the world,” he said.
“The rest of the world is moving towards taking real action on climate change, yet we've got a government who's slammed the nation into reverse gear and retreating away from action.”
Caval Ridge is the eight BMA operation in Queensland, which will initially produce 5.5 million tonnes of metallurgical coal each year.
The Queensland Resources Council has said YTD export coal production is up 12 per cent on 2013 figures, from 142.1mt to 158.5mt.