More secrecy on costs as the Government is unable to use its NSW coal in Collie 

Nov 17, 2023 | State News, Steve Thomas MLC

Further questions in Parliament this week have identified even more mismanagement of the Western Australian coalfields by the Cook Labor according to the Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Energy Dr Steve Thomas.

“After months of questioning about their energy and coal debacles in Parliament, the Cook Labor Government has taken the dramatic step of asking for advice on whether they can release some of the details of the costs to the taxpayers who are being hit with the bills” Dr Thomas said.

“This tiny step towards accountability is welcome but long overdue. Why didn’t they do it months ago when I started asking questions?

“The Cook Government has now admitted to paying or committing more than $1.36 million for multiple consultant’s advice on the foreign owned and insolvent Griffin and the crisis in the coalfields, but it is keeping hidden even more costs.

“The Government has admitted to contracting yet another firm, Ashurst, for legal advice on Griffin under a “partnering arrangement”.

“But consistent with its utter lack of accountability and transparency, the Government has been refusing to identify the cost or the conditions of the “arrangement”.

“It has however had to confess though that eighteen solicitors have been engaged at Ashurst to work “on various issues relating to this matter”.

“Anyone who has previously engaged a single solicitor would understand the cost of needing to employ eighteen of them.

“To date it appears that none of the many paid advisory companies have provided a solution to the problem of the coalfields despite the millions being paid to them.

“We also leant this week that the Government is struggling to use the 103,000 tonnes of coal it imported from NSW to our own coal mining hub of Collie nearly a year ago in a desperate attempt to avoid blackouts last summer.

“The use of the imported coal has stalled, with a quarter of it sitting in a stockpile a year after it was bought because it wasn’t needed and is difficult to use.

“At an estimated purchase price of $350 a tonne, plus all the additional costs of shipping, demurrage, multiple loading and unloading, truck transport, and blending, bringing coal to Collie from Newcastle is a $100 million debacle that can be laid squarely at the feet of the Cook Labor Government.

“Given the outcome, dare I suggest that they should have invested in local WA coal and the Collie coalfields instead?”