Coal mining has a future, Combet

Newly-appointed Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has promised to protect coal mining jobs when devising a method to curb global warming.

Newly-appointed Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has promised to protect coal mining jobs when devising a method to curb global warming.

The former ACTU secretary was promoted to the portfolio by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the weekend.

According to The Australian, Combet said he would target an increase in renewable energy use and energy efficiency as well as a price on carbon.

He believes the coal mining industry would still have a future alongside these three objectives.

“You do not take the back of the axe to the fundamentals of the Australian economy,” he said.

“I have got a responsibility to support those people’s jobs.

“The coal industry is a very vibrant industry with a strong future.

“What you have got to do is look to how we can achieve in the longer term things like carbon capture and storage for coal-fired power stations.”

The president of the Construction Forestry Mining Engineering Union (CFMEU), Tony Maher, said Combet’s previous experience as a union negotiator would help him in his new role. 

“It is going to be a tough job,” he told ABC Radio this morning.

"He will have to deal to the left and deal to the right, but he is the best negotiator in parliament.”

Combet has prior experience with the portfolio, serving as Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change from February 2009.

Former Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has been moved into the Finance portfolio.

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