Renewables may include coal: Labor

NO LIMITS: NSW Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park was in Newcastle on Thursday to talk up the party’s commitments to the Hunter after the NSW budget. LABOR has not ruled out providing fundsto “clean coal” technology through income from the transfer of the Snowy Hydro project if it wins government in 2019.

On Thursday the shadow treasurer Ryan Park said during a visit to Newcastle that Labor would not “limit” itself in thinking about where it would direct funds if the Commonwealth eventually buys out the state’s share of the scheme.

The federal government’s budgetannounced plans to buy some or all ofNSW’s near 60 per cent stake in the Snowy Hydro power company.

NSW and Victoria jointly own about 87 per cent of the shares inSnowy Hydro Limited, a stake that could be worth $5.5 billion.

Labor has said that it would support the sale to the Commonwealth if all of the proceeds from the transfer went to regional areas, including the Hunter.

Part of theinvestmentwould bein renewable energy generation, and when asked if that could potentially include so-called “clean coal” technologies likecarbon capture and storage or high efficiency, low emissions coal-fired power stations, Mr Park said Labor was “talking about all of those things”.

“We want to make sure that we’re not limiting ourselves to what we think is going to be a bright future for renewables,” he said.

“This region has got a strong history and a proud history, and we’ll always have that with coal, but we know that we’ve got to continue to invest in renewables.”

Part of the energy debate has centred around calls in some quarters for state and federal governments to help fund electricity generators.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has not ruled out doing so, and Mr Park said Labor were “not going to commit just yet”.

However in February Luke Foley said he was skeptical about the prospects of funding clean coal technologies.

“I don’t see why governments should be in the business of subsidising industries that are frankly not viable on their own,” Mr Foley said at the time.

Since 2011 the government had kept 30 per cent of cash raised from allasset sales for infrastructure into regional areas, and Deputy Premier John Barilaro has indicated a similar deal from the government if the transfer of the Snowy Hydro went ahead.

Mr Barilaro has said he would preferregional NSW received 30 per cent of all stateasset transactions than 100 per cent fromone sale.

On Thursday Mr Park said it was “astonishing” that Mr Barilaro hadn’t matched Labor’s Snow Hydro commitment.