THE Greens have attacked the Abbott government for refusing to rule out using taxpayer money on infrastructure in the Galilee Basin.
Deputy leader Larissa Waters said the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which is part of the new Federal budget, should not be used to prop up big mining companies.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the funding would not be used on "white elephants", or useless infrastructure.
But he said he would not pre-empt which projects the program would invest in.
"What it will do is it will be available to help us leverage private sector investment in important productivity enhancing infrastructure projects for tomorrow," Senator Cormann said.
"Coal is an industry that I would like to see grow and prosper.
"I believe that coal is good, I believe that coal has helped lift living standards around the world."
Senator Waters argued the "age of coal" was over and mining magnates such as Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer should not receive "taxpayer handouts".
"The Galilee Basin mega-mines are environmentally and economically unviable," she said.
"The coal price has tanked because the rest of the world is turning to renewables, while our backward government attacks Australia's renewable energy industry.
"It's just insane to be putting taxpayer money into propping up these white elephants, especially when 11 international banks have ruled out financing Galilee Basin coal projects."
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