The Shadow Treasurer Dr Steve Thomas and Shadow Minister for Energy says the Cook Labor Government announcement of another $220 million of taxpayers funded handouts to in the foreign owned and insolvent Griffin Coal is an admission of utter failure to reform and manage the coalfields of Collie.
“The Government’s management of the coalfields is an unmitigated disaster that has let down the town of Collie, the energy system in this state, and the entire Western Australian community” Dr Thomas said.
“They have spent $100 million to import coal from NSW that wasn’t needed, and they have struggled to use, they have spent millions more on consultants that have come up with zero answers to the problem, and they will spend a quarter of a billion dollars in handouts to a foreign owned, insolvent company.
“It’s a dreadful record. I fear for the future of Collie.
“And when the free taxpayer cash runs out in mid-2026 we will be in exactly the same dilemma, having simply kicked the can down the road without a single real solution being provided.
“Thanks to my question this week we knew that another $9 million of taxpayer’s money has been handed out to Griffin Coal in November to fund “the ongoing operations of the mine….that were not covered by revenue generated”, bringing the total of handouts this year to $39.3 million” Dr Thomas said.
“It now turns out that, as I have predicted all year, we can expect to hand out at $50 million to $70 million a year until the Cook Government gets its act together and finds a solution to the emerging disaster that is the WA coalfields.
“Now the Government has confirmed it will hand out another $220 million on top of the $40 million already lost, for a total of $260 million over four years.
“That is a quarter of a billion dollars that could have been otherwise spent on something like cost of living relief for struggling WA households.
“Perhaps it could have built a new gas fired power station, as last year the ERA costed a brand new 160MW OCGT at a measly $132 million.
“Instead, this money is going to an insolvent company with debts of $1.5 billion and no capacity to pay it back, so it is $40 million down the drain so far this year and $220 million more over the next three years, with no cap on how much more state money will be handed over and no chance of recouping it.
Dr Thomas said the situation was an embarrassing farce given that at over the same timeframe the Labor Government has also spent millions on consultants who have failed to deliver a solution.
“To date it appears that none of the many highly paid advisory companies have provided a solution to the problem of the coalfields despite the millions being paid to them.
“I note the unions in WA have come up with a proposal, which may or not be achievable, but at least they are trying to find a solution.
“The Cook Labor Government seems incapable of finding one.”