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Lower power prices at risk as MPs bicker over green energy

The Australian Workers Union has ripped into NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay for "selling out its blue collar base" as Coalition ministers turn on themselves over ­energy policy.

"Factories in NSW are buckling and folding under high energy prices," AWU national secretary Daniel Walton said.

"I cannot believe we are seeing NSW Labor prioritising the made-up worries of a noisy minority over the very real employment of manufacturing workers."

Both the AWU and Ms McKay are from the same right faction but Mr Walton said that by backing independent Justin Field's upper house bill calling for a moratorium on coal seam gas development she was pandering to "irrational soft Greens".

NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay has been criticised for her stance on coal seam gas development. Picture: AAP
NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay has been criticised for her stance on coal seam gas development. Picture: AAP

Modelling shows the Narrabri gas project would cut the average $1627 household electricity bill by more than $200.

"Labor voters in blue collar areas want two things above all else: jobs and bill relief," Mr Walton said.

"Affordable gas means cheaper electricity bills - that's a fact."

Mr Field said he believed his bill calling for a halt on all coal seam gas development in NSW would be debated on Wednesday and expected it to pass the upper house with the support of Labor, The Greens and the Shooters and Fishers.

But in the Labor Party room yesterday, Bankstown MP Tania Mihailuk told Ms McKay she was "committing political suicide" by supporting the bill.

Ms McKay told The Daily Telegraph: "Until the recommendations of the NSW chief scientist have been implemented as promised by the government, Labor will support the Bill."

A gas well in Narrabri where Santos hopes to rapidly expand its production. Picture: Nathan Edwards
A gas well in Narrabri where Santos hopes to rapidly expand its production. Picture: Nathan Edwards

Energy Minister Matt Kean said the chief scientist's recommendations on the Narrabri gas field would be met. "It is currently going through an independent assessment … assuming the ­project stacks up I fully support it."

But he has come under fire from colleagues for his other policies including allocating $6 million of the $2 billion energy deal with the federal government to making one third of all new cars in the government fleet hybrid or electric.

Mr Kean said his team was still working with the Commonwealth "to develop the full details of the initiatives" that would be supported by the $2 billion fund.

Nationals leader and deputy premier John Barilaro said the fund was about "job creation" and the use of renewables such as wind farms to give land holders a secondary income.

Narrabri’s main street would get a huge boost if the gas project goes ahead. Picture: Nathan Edwards.
Narrabri’s main street would get a huge boost if the gas project goes ahead. Picture: Nathan Edwards.

He was less keen on using the cash for electric cars.

"In subsidising a whole range of other climate change programs, I'm not a big fan of that, I want to see practical and tangible outcomes," he said.

Coming under fire for his anti-coal energy policy, Mr Kean yesterday looked to shift blame onto his colleagues including blaming Mr Barilaro for sitting on a report for 17 months that showed prices would go up if coal fired power stations close.

Broadcaster Ray Hadley called him a "silly duck" after Mr Kean briefed him behind the scenes that the hard line net zero emissions policy was set by cabinet in 2016 - ­before he joined it.

And Mr Kean also threw Transport Minister Andrew Constance under the electric bus saying it was he who wanted to electrify Sydney's 8000-strong bus fleet.

Originally published as Lower power prices at risk as MPs bicker over green energy


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