Politics

Coal subsidies expanded with hopes of pumping out more exports

Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are being quietly injected into infrastructure to help coalminers expand exports from the Hunter Valley.

(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

The Morrison government is steadily ramping up its funding of and subsidies for thermal coal exports from the Hunter Valley and has more than doubled its investment in coal rail infrastructure since Morrison became prime minister and former Nationals leader Warren Truss took over as chairman.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation, established by the Howard government, operates the interstate rail network and essentially comprises three elements: a relatively small-scale interstate rail freight market, the $18 billion inland rail coal subsidy scheme, and the New South Wales Hunter Valley coal lines, which, according to the most recent ARTC annual report, is “the world’s largest thermal coal export operation”.

It is also the cash cow for the ARTC, as it was for the NSW rail freight system before the NSW government leased the lines to the new rail body in 2004.

Will the inland rail line be a drain on taxpayer dollars? Read on.

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