News | 11th Aug, 2011

Hockey contradicts party

Thursday, 11 August 2011
Jarrod Whittake, Latrobe Valley Express

Federal Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey has described replacing Hazelwood Power Station as the "logical thing to do" during an interview, in a move which puts him at odds with his leader, Tony Abbott.

Mr Hockey told the ABC's Lateline program last week the difference between the Gillard Government's plan and the Coalition's was "we're putting gas in there as a replacement".

"They can fire up the power stations, retain the power stations as such, but replace the brown coal with gas," Mr Hockey said.

He also backed the government's decision to negotiate a price to close down a brown-coal generator, describing it as Labor "adopting our direct action program".

"I fully accept the Government's claim that it's a negotiation," Mr Hockey said.

The announcement contradicts Mr Abbott's claim when he visited the region there was "no reason under our policy Hazelwood can't continue for its ordinary economic life".

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told The Express Mr Hockey's comments were "more proof of the Coalition's negative campaign against real action on climate change".

"This is yet another example of the Coalition changing its position on climate change policy – saying one thing to one audience and another thing to another audience," Mr Combet said.

"On ABC TV's Lateline Mr Hockey confirmed the Coalition's policy would be to shut down coal-fired power generators in the Latrobe Valley and replacing it them with gas.

"However only a couple of weeks ago, Mr Abbott was adamant that he did not want Victoria's brown coal-fired power stations to close or switch to cleaner fuels, despite it being clear Coalition policy."

However, Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester insisted the Coalition's climate change policy was clear.

"While the Gillard Government will sacrifice jobs by shutting down one or more power stations our intention is to help reduce emissions by supporting investment in new technology," Mr Chester said.

"If the owners of power stations want to make the move towards gas that would be their decision but it won't be forced upon them by a Coalition Government."

He said during his visit Mr Abbott had "made it very clear when he visited Hazelwood and attended a community forum that he would work with the community to protect local jobs which has always been my number one priority".

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