Labor ‘tricked’ on plan to phase out coal


Labor ‘tricked’ on plan to phase out coal

By state political reporter Sarah Gerathy, ABCUpdated May 23, 2013, 2:10 pm

New South Wales Opposition Leader John Robertson is backpedalling after he told an anti-mining forum that Labor was developing a plan to phase out the use of coal.

Mr Robertson told the Beyond Coal and Gas conference at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley on the weekend his colleague Luke Foley was working on a plan to phase out coal as Labor prepares its policy platform for the 2015 state election.

“The plan to do that is being developed, and I gave the answer to your third question, which is yes, it does require courage,” Mr Robertson said during a question and answer session at the forum.

But in a statement released today, Mr Robertson said he believed there was still an ongoing role for coal in the state’s energy future, and Labor would continue its tradition of supporting jobs in the industry.

He added he also was committed to developing more sustainable alternative sources of energy.

Mr Foley says Mr Robertson was tricked by the wording of the question to “invent words that I allegedly said that I haven’t said in order to construct a tricky question for a political leader”.

But Energy Minister Chris Hartcher rubbished Mr Foley’s suggestion; he says vision from cameras at the event tell a different story.

“[Mr Robertson] may now wish to correct the record, but he had a deliberate, careful, considered response – this was no offhand response,” he said.

Mr Hartcher says the tens of thousands of workers in the state’s coal industry should no longer have any confidence in Mr Robertson.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann says Mr Robertson cannot have it both ways.

“MPs need to be very careful what they say in public forums – they need to mean it,” she said.

“They can’t say one thing to one audience and another thing to another audience, so John Robertson either believes in phasing out coal, and the Labor party should do that, or not.”

Labor has previously described the Greens as extreme and unrealistic for suggesting phasing out coal, Ms Faehrmann says.

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