Brilliant photo from the Twitter sphere on our story thanks @Milokelpie

NSW Liberal Party Whip Peter Phelps has organised a “Carnival of Coal” evening in early August on behalf of Friends of Coal at the NSW Parliament, with drinks, nibbles and a meet-and-mingle with leading coal industry figures.

In an email to colleagues seen by The Fifth Estate that aroused a “surely they must be kidding?” response, he wrote:

“I will be hosting a ‘Carnival of Coal’ at NSW Parliament House to declare support for coal and associated industries and to send a loud and clear message that action is needed now to protect a secure, inexpensive energy future.”

He also invites anyone who can’t attend to download an image that says “I loved carbon before it was coal” and stick it on their office door to show support, or to take a photo of themselves with, “a miner, a train driver, a power plant worker, a steel worker, a wharfie, a sailor, or any other person whose job directly benefits from the wonderful coal industry in Australia today.”

The Fifth Estate confirmed with Dr Phelps he really did write the email exactly as it was forwarded to us. He said it was a parody in response to the email promoting the Solar Shindig at Parliament House in Sydney next Monday being organised by Greens MP John Keyes on behalf of Solar Citizens. Dr Phelps said his email like Mr Keyes’ invited people to download an image in support of solar and post photos on social media.

But while the email’s wording was supposed to be a parody, he said the event was very real and will be going ahead.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham called the move “offensive” to those concerned about the recent approval by the Liberal and National Parties of the massive Shenhua coal mine on the Liverpool Plains, and is calling for Nationals MPs to boycott the event.

“By launching this ‘Friends of Coal’ group… the NSW Liberals have shown a complete disregard for all those who want to see our food bowl in the Liverpool Plains saved from coal mining,” Mr Buckingham said.

“If this is a joke, then it is a cruel joke and shows enormous insensitivity to those whose farms and communities are being threatened by coal mining. All National Party MPs should boycott this event.”

Liberal MLC Scot MacDonald is understood to have emailed a staffer telling them to put it in his diary, with the email inadvertently sent to everyone in the NSW Parliament.

The Nationals may want to consider the current mood of their heartland. The NSW Farmers’ Association today (Thursday) voted at its annual conference to amend its climate change policy and support a transition away from coal and gas to renewable energy sources.

The motion was developed by the association’s Young Farmers’ Council.

“Primary producers are on the front lines of seasonal variability, rising temperatures and more extreme weather, exacerbated by a changing climate,” said Angela Martin, a primary producer from Mullaley.

She said she was “heartened” by the motion ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.

“We want to make sure that the association is in a position to be able to play an active role in the issue,” Ms Martin said.

  • UPDATED: This article was updated to reflect the correct punctuation with Dr Phelps’ name, and to correctly name Scott MacDonald as a Liberal Party member (not National).

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  1. ‘Carnival of Coal’ organised by the so called “Friends of Coal!” It’s really disgusting for those of us who are ‘health’ minded and concerned about coal dust and what it can do!! Why don’t the “Friends of Coal” get it? Money isn’t everything especially when it produces(coal production) sickness and destroys our natural environment.

  2. Funny. No photos of the 1,500 Australians who die each year from air pollution mostly caused by coal-fired power stations? Or some snaps of the doctors and nurses who treat up to ~$8bn worth of respiratory and other illness caused in NSW alone? (Ref:

  3. Anzac day honors young men & women who lost their lives in the 1& second world war! Reason to keep our country safe? Farmers farm the land to grow our food to keep us alive.
    We went to war because the Government said we had to serve our country.
    Farmers work hard,suffer a hard life, the Government and, the banks serve themselves, throw the farmers off their land, for banks profit, Government self serve themselves, in every way,that,suits their purpose.
    Continually takes away from the people, on a daily basis.
    Sells the land to another country, at the highest price. the mining industry does not pay taxes, therefore,the profit from the mines goes to the politicians, bankers, not the Government, to buy property for themselves! profit driven,no care policy, selling Australia out with no care for any rules, of basic human rights & basic human service!
    I am appalled at the level of ignorance,the so called politicians aim at looking after the rich and victimising,the people,they classify as undeserving. with education cuts, health & amp; hospital cuts, petrol price hikes, no regulation on food prices, and continue to victimise relentlessly. GST price hike. Carbon price hikes to the decisions,the politicians create. What a circus, of lies,deception, deceitful behaviour, driving Australians into a sink hole, without a care, as the gold in their pockets, grows…. & grows

  4. I am just stunned reading this, we have seen the biggest Industrial disaster in Australia Feb 2014 when the Hazelwood Mine Fire burnt for 45 days covering the Latrobe Valley in Smoke. We have seen a hero’s/Firefighters come forward & say his Dr believe his cancer is from the fire. We have seen so many people develop cancers in the last 6 months & B…ards like you think coal is good. This week my husband has been diagnosed with lung cancer has never smoked but has worked in Brown Coal Mines for many years, he was also very sick from the Mine Fire. It’s time the coalition had a hard look at themselves.

  5. You’ve got to be kidding. Is this a joke Peter Phelps? Do you have a TV, read newspapers or even listen to the people? They don’t want your coalmines or your coal seam gas. They want good food and clean water. We’re sick of you ignoring the wishes of the public. It’s time you stoped treating us like children and deciding what’s in our best interests, when the only interests you are serving and seem to be concerned with, is that of millionaires and corporate money. Coal Barrons.These people pollute and play a major role in climate change, they’re destroying prime farmland, poison the water and cause health problems in communities living near them. And you’re describing the coal industry “an inexpensive energy future”. Are you mad? Who’s paying for this Carnival of Coal shindig you’re hosting at Parliament House? The tax payer? We, the people that elected you, want their tax payer dollars spent on renewable energy to help fight climate change, retain farming land, keep water clean and save people from the health problems associated with this archaic industry. We want to invest in the future, while clearly you are embedded in the past. Know that your time in power will be short lived if you continue to ignore public opinion.

  6. I am astonished at the complete disregard and utter arrogance this government shows towards the farmers of this country…They are selling our country to the Chinese mining industry, for what benefit but to fill their coffers with money at the expense of our farmers and communities that live in this country Australia….They are supposed to be here to serve the public not rip the guts out of the country…sack them I say as this mob is destroying us….