Sky News host Alan Jones says the upcoming by-election for the NSW seat of Upper Hunter is a “litmus test” for all political parties in the country, and a “barometer for Australia’s future”.
The by-election so far has focussed on the future of coal and mining in the state, given the area has the highest concentration of coal jobs in New South Wales.
“No person in any government could articulate in a couple of simple sentences what our energy policy is because they are terrified of mentioning the word ‘coal’,” Mr Jones said.
“Even though it brings in over $70 billion of export money, it provides in the Hunter Valley 110,000 jobs”.
“The mine expansion that Turnbull didn’t want at Mount Pleasant would create 1,300 jobs.”
He pointed to comments made by Malcolm Turnbull in February 2017, when the then prime minister said old high emissions coal power plants cannot simply be replaced by gas, because it is too expensive, or by wind or solar, because they are intermittent.
“Since Turnbull was dumped, he has become an opponent,” Mr Jones said.
“And then we have this bloke Kean in New South Wales – a walking contradiction”.
“In September 2019 he said coal was critical to the state’s energy future … but as the months passed, someone got at him”.
“By January 2020, he was talking about a post-fossil fuel world, no endorsement of coal.”
Mr Jones spoke with Nationals Senator Matt Canavan about the upcoming by-election and the issue of coal.
“I think the lesson is every time there’s an election everybody rushes to express how much they support coal,” Mr Canavan said.
“Outside the election we constantly hear how terrible coal is and how it’s no longer supported and it’s dead and it’s a four-letter word”.
“And then as soon as the real people, everyday people, your viewers get asked, the curtain gets raised.”