Boyce tells Rudd to act on coal competitiveness

PEABODY Energy chairman and CEO Gregory H Boyce has put newly re-installed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on notice that Australia should implement comprehensive policy reform aimed at returning the nation's coal sector to international competitiveness.
Boyce tells Rudd to act on coal competitiveness Boyce tells Rudd to act on coal competitiveness Boyce tells Rudd to act on coal competitiveness Boyce tells Rudd to act on coal competitiveness Boyce tells Rudd to act on coal competitiveness

Peabody chairman and chief executive Gregory Boyce

Lou Caruana

Australia's coal sector remained a cornerstone of the Australian economy but was at a key inflection point, he warned at the Minerals Council of Australia's Minerals Week Seminar.

“Coal remains the fuel that can advance Australia's energy, economic and environmental goals, but recent policies have eroded competitiveness and jeopardised economic growth,” he said.

“It's now up to Australia's leaders to implement the policy reforms that will ensure coal can continue to drive the economy and enhance Australia's position as a global leader in the decades ahead.

“There are decades of opportunity ahead in the Asia-Pacific region, but Australia's competitors recognise this, and all of Australia faces a steep cost if its policymakers get it wrong,” he said.

“Australia's recent policies have put at risk two pillars of the economy: affordable electricity and the leading position of a resource sector that has delivered a decade of economic growth that made Australia the envy of the developed world.”

Peabody Energy – the world’s largest privately owned coal company -– has an extensive coal footprint in Australia after its acquisition of Macarthur Coal and has indicated that it wants to expand into Mongolia to supply the Chinese market.

Boyce said that despite current market headwinds, the long-term fundamentals for coal remained strong and Australia's exports would have a critical part to play in shaping the Asia-Pacific region's future.

He said that no matter which party led Australia's next government, a new policy blueprint was needed to ensure that the coal sector regained competitive ground and continued to drive economic growth.

He called for the establishment of a National Commission on Resource Sector Competitiveness devoted to ensuring that Australia's policy framework served the long-term national interest.

“The commission must be bipartisan, must represent both state and federal interests and must work in partnership with the private sector,” Boyce said.

“Its first priority should be aligning the government and industry's respective visions to formulate a 30-year strategy for the sector,” he said.

Boyce also called for the repeal of the highly controversial carbon tax, which was a legacy of the Julia Gillard prime ministership but was destined to be thrown out if Tony Abbot won the next election.

“Affordable, reliable electricity benefits both households and businesses and is the backbone of economic growth,” Boyce said.

“Europe and the U.S. state of California serve as examples of the catastrophic effects ill-advised carbon policies have had on other developed economies.”

Boyce said Australia could achieve its energy, economic and environmental goals by embracing and deploying advanced coal technologies that would make a measurable difference to the nation's emissions profile.

“Super-critical coal plants are highly efficient, and their carbon emissions rate as much as 40% below the oldest plants,” he said.

“Granting this technology the same status as renewables would be a leap in the right direction for a forward-thinking nation."

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