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Nationals join forces in Singleton to show support for coal industry and coal-fired power stations

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Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen and New England MP Barnaby Joyce in Singleton.

New England MP Barnaby Joyce and Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen joined forces in Singleton today pushing for more coal-fired power stations.

The topic brought Barnaby Joyce to a head with Prime Minister Scot Morrison this week after a push to fund a coal-fired power station in Queensland was rejected.

It also again saw the question of whether or not Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack’s position was under threat by Barnaby Joyce.

While he said he had no plans to barrack for the job, one thing Barnaby Joyce knew for sure was that coal has to be here to stay.

“People out there are screaming, for more affordable power because they just can’t make the payment that comes through, this will be a hard fight, but we have to be practical,”

“I know there are issues that concern people deeply but there is no prospect of another industry that can come into these towns now and employ people with the same money they’re getting,” he said.

“We need to make sure these working men and women, that their job is protected, that what they do for the Australian economy exporting our major export is respected and if you have to take some hits on the way through, from any side and from all sides well you do it for the sake of the people in Singleton and for the sake of the people in Muswellbrook.”

The majority of coal produced in the Hunter Valley is exported and in the 2016/17 the 28 mining companies in the region injected $4.8 billion into the local economy.

“We have to accept that we have nothing to replace our largest export with which is coal, we have to accept that over a 15 year time period if we can get it, the construction of a new coal-fired power station will be the affordable way to keep power prices down,” said Barnaby Joyce.

“I’ve been in lonely minorities most of my political career, being scared of the fight I have never been.”

“I maintain our parties policy that we need affordable power,” he said.

Barnaby Joyce added that it’s not just about the jobs in the mines in the Hunter Valley, it’s all of the jobs along the production line that are vital to keep.

“Without people who put the product on the boat, you do not have the same capacity to take the product off the boat.”

“Look at the pants you’re wearing, the shirt you’re wearing, the shoes you’re wearing, the car you drive, the fuel inside it, the stove you cook on, the television you watch, the phone in your pocket, all of these products came off a boat and somebody somewhere must be sending something in the other direction and we respect those workers and we will support them.”

Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen agrees and holds firm in backing the power stations proposed to be built on the Hunter Economic Zone at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley.

“We’re not going to give up on doing exactly everything that we possibly can to be able to provide Australia with the cheapest possible power, we keep people in jobs in the coal industry, we keep people in jobs in the power industry.”

“There will be a lot of people against us,”

“They are out there wanting to close your industry down, we are here protecting the coal industry, protecting coal-fired power stations and wanting to build more,” said Michael Johnsen.

Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse