It is now over three years since Scott Morrison waved a lump of coal around the floor of parliament in a question time stunt. “Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared, it won’t hurt you,” the then treasurer said, passing it along to a delighted Barnaby Joyce as coalition ranks cheered behind them.
A lot has changed since then. Joyce is no longer his party’s leader, Morrison is now PM, and these days the Coalition’s fossil fuel of choice is gas.
This week the government made two sets of crucial energy announcements. In the first Morrison travelled to the Tomago aluminium smelter outside Newcastle - a plant that demands over 10 per cent of the state’s power - to announce the government’s measures to ensure electricity supply remained plentiful, reliable and cheap.
Morrison had kind words to say of coal, which he mentioned six times in the address. “In Australia, you cannot talk about electricity generation and ignore coal,” he said reassuringly. “My government understands this. The fact that we understand it is important. So many of your livelihoods depend on it. And not everyone shares this view.”
But gas - which Morrison mentioned 55 times - was the true star of the show.