Federal Canberra MP David Smith has doubled down on his anti-coal position following revelations last week concerning pro-coal Otis group emails.
Accidentally-leaked emails were sent between a group of 20 Labor MPs who met at the Otis Dining Hall in Kingston to discuss the party’s position over coal.
Not all MPs in the email chain attended. Mr Smith says he received an invitation by phone to attend a dinner which he declined.
The federal member for Bean, which covers the south of the ACT, told Region Media the whole story has been blown out of proportion.
“There is not a group. That was a complete beat-up about a dinner of MPs. It is just rubbish,” Mr Smith said.
“As far as I know they only had one dinner and I did not even know who was going and who wasn’t.
“I was invited and did not go. I had a better offer.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese recently said there was no place for new coal-fired power plants in Australia, and Mr Smith said he supports the position.
“I do not support coal power stations, of course not. It is going to be a redundant technology for coal power stations in five to ten years,” he said.
Mr Smith said new coal fire power plants do not stack up economically.
“The subsidies that it requires means that it does not stack up at all,” he said.
“That group was not meeting about that, they were talking about the community. There is an issue about what happens with work in those communities.
“You need to find a way to provide other opportunities to those communities as they transition out of those industries.”
Mr Albanese released the party’s new emissions reductions and renewable energy targets today following criticism of the party’s position on coal.
Federal Labor has adopted a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with an initial 45 per cent reduction by 2030, bringing it in line with NSW and Victoria.
The ACT has a policy of net-zero emissions by 2045.
Mr Smith insists the party is unified in its position on coal.
“There is a relatively consistent position across the party. It is not a simple issue but I think Albanese has been quite right in his approach,” he said.
“In terms of our policy process, our national conference is in December this year so policy and platform are evolving. You do not put out your policy platform two years before an election.
“But there is a lot of conversation about policy areas at the moment and different people feed into those processes.”
Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon, who was a part of the Otis group, previously said he wanted Labor to re-embrace the coal industry after Bill Shorten’s election campaign was hammered in his electorate of Hunter.
Mr Fitzgibbon suffered a 9.5% swing against him at the 2019 Federal election in his NSW seat of Hunter, partly because of Labor’s ambiguous language on Adani, combined with some anti-coal rhetoric within the coal mining community in the Hunter Valley region an election review found.
Deputy Leader, Richard Marles, who was not on the Otis emails, similarly refused to rule out supporting new coal developments in early February but said it would be a “good thing” if the thermal coal market collapsed.