Kate Wilkinson MP
National Party Labour & Industrial Relations Spokeswoman
15 November 2007
Chinese coal subsidy questioned
Labour Minister Trevor Mallard needs to explain why Kiwi taxpayers are effectively subsidising the coal industry in China, when China is the world’s top producer and consumer of coal.
“National’s all for proper workplace safety training, but why are Kiwi taxpayers subsidising a multi-billion dollar Chinese coal industry?”
Ms Wilkinson is responding to union attacks on a statement she issued earlier today, where she revealed the Labour Department had given the Council of Trade Unions $84,711 for ‘Safety Training for Safety Representatives in Chinese Coal Mines’.
Officials have described the Chinese coal mining subsidy as a ‘type of aid project’, said it ‘helps us utilise expertise that we already have’, and that they’d continue to consider any proposal for funding this sort of ‘international collaboration’.
“Here we have a situation where scarce taxpayer dollars are being spent improving the safety of Chinese coal mines. While that is a worthy goal – I’m sure Kiwi taxpayers would prefer their money was being spent improving New Zealanders’ workplace safety.
“Surely even the EPMU’s mining members would prefer those taxpayer dollars were focussed on improving safety in New Zealand mines rather than mines in China.”
Ms Wilkinson utterly rejects the claim that the Labour Government’s decision to subsidise the Chinese coal industry has nothing to do with climate change.
“China is the world’s top producer and consumer of coal. Coal accounted for 76 per cent of China's energy needs in 2005. Given that Labour has put a ban on thermal generation here in New Zealand, the subsidy being offered to the Chinese coal industry simply can’t be justified.”