Union hits out at doomsday coal report

A TELEVISION program investigating the future of Australia’s coal industry has been called “a little shallow” by the Victorian Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

The Latrobe Valley brown coal industry was featured in the ABC ‘The End of Coal?’ Monday night program that considered a diminishing coal price and uncertain coal export opportunities.

CFMEU Victoria mining and energy division vice president Graeme Middlemiss said the program was shallow, sloganeering and unbalanced in its reporting.

“I didn’t feel there was a balanced analysis of industry at all,” he said.

However, Mr Middlemiss believed featured commentator United Nations Climate Change chief Christina Figuerres had modified her rhetoric after meeting local CFMEU delegates in Melbourne.

He said a strong “anti-coal” positon was slightly modified, with Figuerres acknowledging the need for a lengthy transition period away from coal with no economic diversity in communities like the Valley.

“We put to her the economic effects on communities throughout Australia. Her view is now that any move against coal has to have economic transition for affected communities,” Mr Middlemiss said.

Latrobe Valley Sustainability Group member Dan Caffrey said the program portrayed the Latrobe Valley brown coal industry accurately, with Hazelwood Power Station the most carbon-polluting power station in the world.

“But again if you just looked at economics alone and the way things are with laws in place, it will be the last to close,” Mr Caffrey said.

“It will be black coal mines that close before Latrobe Valley stations close because black coal is more costly to mine,” he said.