Friday, October 28, 2011
Anna Bligh puts $116 million down the Green Gurgler!
The incredible waste of money on fundamentally stupid green schemes such as Solyandra in the US is being repeated in Queensland where ZeroGen , a "clean coal" company has gone belly-up with $116 million of tax-payers funds going up in smoke. Company executives were spotted fiddling overseas as taxpayer's funds were being burned and have now folded up their website along with the project. This is ,of course, the thin end of the wedge with the gormless Gillard providing 10 billion for more non-commercial "green" schemes which no one in the private sphere would dream of funding.
SAYONARA, Premier. Anna Bligh's claims her bungled clean-coal dream would live on have collapsed, with the company at the centre put into liquidation at a loss to taxpayers of almost $160 million.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the controversial ZeroGen operation was shut down a fortnight ago, despite the Premier promising the ailing firm would be given to - and run by - the coal industry to ensure its work did not go to waste.
Documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission this month show the company is under external administration after a liquidator was appointed on October 11.
ZeroGen was set up to be owned by the Government to develop carbon capture technology. Its key project was to be a $4.3 billion clean coal power plant in central Queensland, running by 2015, with the power to capture 90 per cent of coal emissions.
The confirmation of the financial losses come as photos have emerged showing former ZeroGen chiefs living it up in Japan and Singapore as they tried to secure backing of business giant Mitsubishi Corp.
Former ZeroGen chief Tony Tarr and the company's corporate affairs manager Heather Brodie were snapped partying in kimonos and horseplaying in Singapore.
After scrapping the key "world-first" $4 billion central Queensland plant, the Bligh Government claimed ZeroGen would be given to the Australian Coal Association to ensure the knowledge it gained lived on.
Ms Bligh, who had insisted the money was not wasted, had said it would become "an independent entity, owned and run by industry and dedicated to the accelerated development and deployment of carbon capture storage".
But ACA chairman John Pegler yesterday said the group knew nothing of its supposed involvement.
"We have never, ever, ever been in negotiations to take over ZeroGen," he said.
Contradiction also emerged in the office of Treasurer Andrew Fraser yesterday, who insisted the intellectual property still belonged to the state and would be used in future.
"The Federal Government was an equity partner in the venture and has been actively involved in the wind-up process," he said. The wind-up began in June.
But federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said the Commonwealth became aware only "in early October that the board may voluntarily liquidate the company".
Queensland has pumped $116 million into the project, the Commonwealth about $43 million and the coal industry about $50 million.
Federal Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt yesterday called for an inquiry, saying the loss of so much money was scandalous.
"There should be an immediate, independent inquiry as to how this money has been lost and where it has gone," he said.
ZeroGen garnered attention across Asia and the US and was touted by Ms Bligh and former premier Peter Beattie as a ground-breaking world-first as far back as 2006.
But now the ZeroGen website has been closed.
"The ZeroGen Project has concluded," the site states.
"Arrangements are ongoing for final knowledge capture and dissemination with the assistance of the Global CCS Institute."
State Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney said ZeroGen epitomised the waste and mismanagement of a tired Labor Government.
"Anna Bligh has still never fully explained why the warnings about ZeroGen were ignored for so long and why they were so gung ho to roll the dice with taxpayers' money," he said.