At the coalface in Collinsville, promises, politics and power plants.

Brisbane Times
May 13, 2022

Until the phone call, the man spearheading Australia’s most audacious coal project was beginning to worry the government had gone cold.

His organisation, Shine Energy, was getting nowhere in its claims for an extra $2.5 million in grant money to finish the feasibility study and reference to its proposed 1000-megawatt power station at Collinsville, a small mining town in central Queensland, had notably slipped from the public declarations of once-bullish Nationals MPs.

Even local member Michelle Landry, who 20 months ago posed in a photo clutching a lump of coal to spruik the project and her party’s contributions, failed to mention it in her March 28 press release titled ‘Landry Delivering for Collinsville’.

But right now, Birriah and Widi man Ashley Dodd, Shine’s chief executive, is feeling reassured.

His positivity – shared neither by market analysts nor the people of Collinsville – stems from a conversation several weeks ago with the office of Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

“[The office] said that Barnaby would die in the ditch over this project in Collinsville,” Dodd says.
“If I didn’t get that call just recently, I’d probably be speaking to you differently ... That made me feel good. So, now we’re just progressing strongly with the partial feasibility and we’ll go from there. With the politics, let’s see how that plays out. That’s out of my hands.”

The effusive private message to Shine is at odds with the tempered public utterances of the Coalition government which, deep into an election campaign, is trying to fend off “teal independents” invading its affluent and climate-conscious urban flank.

Dodd says the $2.5 million for the feasibility study, an amount in addition to the $3.3 million controversially awarded to Shine in 2020, is part of the agreed deal. As recently as April 27, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government had already met its commitments to the company.