'Lights out by January': Joyce warns of power blackouts
THE lights will be out by January, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has warned, unless coal fired generators keep their power stations operating.
Mr Joyce, who is on the Sunshine Coast for the LNP's federal blitz of the area, walked past an anti-Adani protest outside the Maroochydore surf club before outlining a looming summer of "absolute chaos".
"It will work like this. Round about January, end of January mum and dad are going to come back from being up the beach with the kids. Mum will turn on the air conditioner and get ready to go back to her work and dad will get ready to go back to his work.
"The schools will fire up and businesses will start and all turn on their air conditioners and the traffic will build up. And if we don't get this equation right, the power goes off.
"It will trip and the power goes off.
"That means the lifts stop, and if you're in a lift you'll be stuck there for a while. The operations at the hospital will stop. That means the traffic will go into total gridlock.
"There will be absolute chaos. If you want to know what it looks like, South Australia gave it a crack last year.
"Since then, the Labor Party have closed down Hazelwood in Victoria and made the problem worse.
"I'm going to be the pragmatist. We've got to keep our baseload power working and the big baseload power deliverer in this country is called coal and we're going to keep doing it and I'm sad that's going to hurt other people's feelings but I can't help that.
"But if the lights go out it will be devastating not just for the people living in the big cities stuck in the traffic, stuck in the tunnels without the exhaust fans going and stuck in hot houses because the air conditioners don't work and feeling insecure because the place is black but it's going to be terrible for the renewable industry because people are going to say the whole thing has fallen to pieces.
"We don't want that either."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has addressed the issue with Tim Nicholls in Brisbane.
He said that while his Government had no plans to build another coal fired power station in Australia, it would be willing to help Mr Nicholls build one in North Queensland should he become Premier.
Mr Turnbull said Mr Nicholls' proposed coal fired power station in North Queensland would be eligible for funding under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, despite it not funding a single project since its inception 14 months ago.
The fund has money set aside by the Federal Government to lend concessional loans for projects.
"Tim and I have talked about a plant in North Queensland, if Tim becomes Premier he said he would welcome the construction of one in North Queensland, there is a lot of support for it up there," he said.
"We don't have plans to build a coal fired power station ourselves but we are of course shareholders in Snowy Hydro which is a Government company."
Mr Turnbull said there was no ulterior motive behind his three day blitz of southeast Queensland.
"I was asked yesterday by one of the reporters if I was here because of rumblings about a state election and I said well I have been here 11 times this year and every time there is rumblings about a state election," he joked.
Queenslanders are set to see more of the Prime Minister with him expected to campaign alongside Mr Nicholls for part of the election.