Tony Abbott has faced criticism–and Twitter snark–over his support for coal-fired power stations during a pre-election debate this morning.
Coming face-to-face with his challenger in Warringah, former Olympic skier Zali Steggall, Mr Abbott was asked whether he supported taxpayer subsidies for new coal-fired power stations.
“I’ve never said there should be a taxpayer funded coal-fired power station. I think we do need more baseload power in the system,” Mr Abbott responded.
“Why not coal-fired power? Because coal-fired power remains the cheapest form of reliable baseload power.
“I’ve been accused of being against renewables. I’m all in favour of renewables, provided they’re economic, and what we need to do is wind down the subsidies for renewables, which are driving up prices for consumers and making the whole system less reliable.”
Ms Steggall also voiced her disproval of Mr Abbott’s proposition.
“To suggest there is an economic argument about new coal-fired power is so ridiculous,” she said.
“It ignores the market, it ignores our financial institutions, who have all pointed out that the energy of the future is renewables. Coal is not economical,” she said.
“There is no doubt that it still plays a part in our energy mix, and it needs to be a gradual evolution, and a gradual retirement of coal.
“The reality is, the cheapest form of production of power is renewables, Mr Abbott,” Ms Steggall said.
“Not 24/7. When the wind blows it’s cheap,” he shot back.
“That is the most ludicrous argument that gets touted all the time, the intermittency,” she said.
“Well let’s abolish all the subsidies then,” Mr Abbott said, smirking.
“Would you mind?” Ms Steggall said.
“The reality is, the electorate actually want to hear, and these people want to hear the reality.”