Media Release in Response to LV Express article Monday 24th Nov. 2014

In response to the article, I as the candidate would like to make the following points:

  • The transition from the dependence on coal use in the Latrobe Valley is going to be a difficult task and requires a long-term view.
  • However, it needs to happen as soon as we can make the change, because of climate change and so that further environmental destruction is avoided.
  • The benefits to the area will be better health, better amenity because of cleaner air and far less acid rain. Morwell will be a more desirable place to live and house prices will eventually rise.
  • A stop to the mercury build up in the environment culminating in the Gippsland Lakes
  • The larger the open-cuts become, the greater the economic costs in terms of fixing the environmental damage, including catastrophic failures such as the road slippage, two river incursions and coal mine fires. So limiting their expanse is desirable economically as we cannot guarantee that these disasters will not happen in the future.

While jobs will obviously be lost, the Greens plan is to attract new industries to the Valley to make use of the well-spring of skilled labour here. By stopping the expansion of the open-cuts, jobs will be saved in the farming and forestry sector.

  • We are determined to avoid a Kennett type smashing of the area where 11,000 jobs became 3000 in less than a decade.
  • Even allowing for the proposal as written – 540 direct jobs at Hazelwood, together with job losses from Yallourn, might see about 600 direct jobs go within 2 years.
  • This is about one tenth the losses of the Kennett Privatisations.
  • There will be jobs created in this process, in decommissioning Hazelwood and beginning proper rehabilitation of the mine to a safe state.
  • With an accompanying increase of the VRET, the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, to at least 20% of renewable energy in Victoria by 2020 and higher targets for the future, the growth of renewable energies, especially wind and large scale solar will start to roll out again, after being in decline since the election of the Baillieu/Napthine Government 4 years ago.
  • Jobs in wind tower and nacelle production; mounts, electronic control systems and inverter production for PV solar power stations and many other components for renewable energy can be manufactured here in the Valley.
  • We should be looking at rolling out cutting edge technologies such as Eureka’s Future, reverse cycle hot water units and products such as quick-charge units for electric vehicles that could be the bases for potential export markets.
  • Hydrogen could be produced in fuel cells from cheap excess renewable energy and used for many purposes, including generating peak demand electricity
  • Methane from the water factory and other sewage treatment works can be captured and stored to produce electricity in peak demand times.
  • Feasibility studies could be conducted to see if a pumped hydro scheme could be created from the fall into the Morwell open cut from Hazelwood Pondage. The construction of a scheme like this would employ hundreds of workers to keep electricity generation here in the Valley for use in peak times.
  • Providing replacement industries and jobs is to be a prime consideration of any contract for closure.

Some other notes:

  • The owners, GDF Suez have previously stated publicly that they would still be operating till 2034, which apparently is when they would have run out of coal and will have to apply for a further allocation.
  • This seems to be an ambit claim as they must be aware that pressure to fight climate change is mounting world wide, especially in the light of the agreement between Presidents of the USA and China.
  • This should be seen in the light of their negotiating position around closure and the rehabilitation of the mine.
  • Brown coal is the most carbon intensive of all grades of coal, with Hazelwood producing about 1.5 tonnes CO2 for every MWh of electricity.
  • This is about 16 million tonnes of CO2 per year from Hazelwood.
  • Yallourn produces slightly less than this per MWh at 1.4 MWh, compared to black coal, which produces about 0.9 – 1 tonne per MWh.



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Greens Press Release re Transition of the Latrobe Valley away from Coal

 “Every nation has a responsibility to act on climate change…. We have to overcome the divides, look squarely at the science and reach a strong global agreement next year.”

 These are the words of Barack Obama a few days after signing an agreement with the Chinese president to take realistic action to fight climate change.

When the two most powerful men in the world agree that greenhouse gas emissions are going to cause catastrophic and irreversible change to the planet, and that action must be taken then why is this not an issue here in the Latrobe Valley.

  •  We produce 50% of Victoria’s carbon emissions, so why haven’t the major parties declared their position on a time frame for the phasing out of the dirtiest and most emissions intensive power stations in the country, Hazelwood and Yallourn.
  •  Both the Liberal/Nationals Government and Labor are afraid to lead on this issue. Are they afraid of a voter backlash if they were to show some leadership on the issue, or are they afraid of a loss of fossil fuel industry donations?
  •  The Greens plan is to transition to a renewable energy economy. Transition means the roll out of renewable energy in the form of wind, photovoltaic and solar thermal power stations as well as more rooftop solar; ocean wave and tidal; pumped hydro on existing dams and even possibly the Morwell open-cut; geothermal, possibly inside the open cut, as well as biogas and bio-char.  The time frame would be around 10 years.
  •  With an over-supply of 3000 MW of capacity in Victoria now according to AGL and the Australian Energy market Operator (AEMO), a suite of renewables can ensure a constant supply of electricity.
  •  This will be a gradual but fully transparent and clear plan that keeps jobs in the Valley, unlike the Kennett era chaos, when 11, 000 jobs was shrunk to 3000 in 6 years.
  •  New jobs will be created in building the components for wind, hydro, tidal and ocean wave generators here in the Valley. We would push for geothermal electricity production here.
  •  However, the real bonus would be in the cleaning up of the environment. No more hazardous working conditions in asbestos riddled dilapidated structures, no more acid rain and particulate pollution, leading to better health and a smaller health budget for the government of the day, no increase in mercury and other heavy metals in fish in the Gippsland Lakes and no increase in this regions contribution to ocean acidification and global warming.
  •  Also, if more land can be saved from being consumed by the open cuts, then we will suffer less environmental catastrophe such as coal fires, river incursions and road closures.
  •  A proper rehabilitation of all the mines is essential but will be largely impossible at the Morwell open cut before production ceases.  So early closure will speed rehabilitation.
  •  Rehabilitation bonds must be increased to reflect the real cost of rendering the mines safe.  A figure of $ 15 million is probably about a tenth of what it should be in todays money.
  •  Rehabilitation must not contribute to the degradation of surrounding countryside, so we may have to face the fact that these mines may never be used for productive purposes again, because they are just too deep.
  •  At the moment, the open cuts are creeping outwards every day and more valuable farmland is being lost.
  •  When electors go to vote, I want them to think how much closer to an open cut mine that their home will be next year and the year after that.
  •  The Greens can be trusted to provide the leadership and courage that the bigger parties lack to get this job done.
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Transitioning the Latrobe Valley

The picture is from a still from this video. The after effects of the Hazelwood Mine Fine.

As the Greens candidate for the Morwell electorate, I would like to announce the Liberal/National Party and the Labor Party policies on coal use for the Latrobe Valley. The reason I am doing it is because they won’t.

Both the Coalition and Labor want to allocate another 13 billion tonnes of brown coal in hitherto unmined areas of the Valley such as west of Tyers, Traralgon Creek, Yinnar, near Churchill, Flynn, Rosedale and Gormandale. Most of this would be exported to China. In any case, the end use and processing of this coal will mean massive increases in greenhouse gas emissions and the ultimate destruction of thousands of hectares of fertile agricultural land.

The big Parties also have no plan for a transition of the Latrobe Valley away from its dependence on the coal industry. In the light of international developments, this should be a priority. A planned, stage by stage, orderly closure of the oldest power stations would seem prudent economically and for the benefit of the workers there, instead of the Kennet like devastation of the 1990’s.

Instead the mirage of “clean coal” technology is being pedalled by the Government. If it means carbon capture and storage, then expect an instant huge hike in electricity prices as this is extremely costly, not to mention unproven technology over the long term. If it means DICE technology, which is said to halve the emissions of a conventional brown coal power station then this is still far more polluting than even natural gas and is still years away from commercialisation. Both the major parties have wasted tax-payer money on supporting these faux solutions.

By contrast the Greens will provide leadership and be all inclusive in raising the level of community debate about the real solutions.  The people here should decide our future, not powerful businessmen colluding with Government Ministers in Melbourne.

The Greens long term vision for the Latrobe Valley, is that we say no to further destruction of farming country from open cuts. Renewable energy of all kinds will be encouraged so that there can be a negotiated, planned and orderly phasing out of Hazelwood and Yallourn power stations as soon as the threshold amount of renewable energy is installed. Jobs would be created in the Valley to make best use of the heavy engineering skills that are located here to build the components of a renewable energy economy, such as equipment for wind, ocean wave, solar, geothermal and hydro generation, biogas and biochar, as well as energy efficient products such as Eureka’s Future hot water units.

Jobs would also be saved from those that would be lost from tourism, forestry, farming and the food processing industries, if the land was mining free. These are long term sustainable jobs. The trouble with fossil fuels like coal is that once they have been burnt, they are useless and end up as greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, heating up the planet. The wealth is generated and gone in a few seconds and the land where it came from is useless forever after. Ask yourself, how much wealth is generated from the mined out area of the present open cuts? No farming. No forestry. No employment. No rates to support our local Councils. Why is there so much disadvantage, high unemployment, ill-health and low house prices in the city of Morwell if coal was good for the economy and the people?  And, who is ever going to pay to make these open-cuts productive again? Is it even feasible to do so?

The longer we wait to end this unsustainable madness, the worse the problem will get. The major Parties are scared to engage. Only the Greens have the vision and the guts to tackle this task.

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Where is 13 billion tonnes of coal for allocation?

Daniel Caffrey on 13 billion tonne allocation of coal

Daniel Caffrey at Maryvale/Yallourn North the land allocated for part the 13 billion tonne allocation of coal.

In relation to opening up more coal mines, he says, “[They’re] Good for nothing, no farming, no agriculture and no forestry.”

For more information on the 13 billion tonne allocation:

Dan has written about the coal industry in the Latrobe Valley on numerous occasions:

Authorised by Daniel Caffrey, Level 1 of 362 Little Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3001

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Napthine’s environmental policy



Tony Abbott is fond of saying “Judge me not by what I say, but by what I do”. Using this as a basis of judging Mr Abbott’s Coalition colleagues in Victoria on their environmental claims, it becomes clear that that what they claim in not what they are doing.
When they say that they are fighting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the environment, the list of their actions gives the lie to those claims. Since coming to power in 2010, the Bailieu/Napthine Governemnt has:-

· Decimated the wind power industry in Victoria, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs from components manufacturers and rural construction firms. They have only approved 8 wind turbines in total and the pipeline of hundreds of millions of dollars of investment has gone overseas or interstate. The Brumby Government had approved 1000 turbines previous to the last election and this Napthine Government has even tried to scuttle some of these
· Backed more coal fired generation capacity such as the HRL project in Morwell with $50 million funding
· Broke an election promise to support large scale solar power stations in northern Victoria
· Reduced the solar net feed-in tariff to 8 cents per kWh.
· Wholeheartedly encouraged the mining of CSG in Victoria until forced to change their stance by community opposition from farmers
· Renewed a 50 Year lease of coal for the Angelsea power station
· Watered down laws that protect endangered species from excessive logging
· Abandoning the VRET that would have stipulated a 20% renewable energy target by 2020 in Victoria
· Allocating another 13 billion tonnes of coal in the Latrobe Valley, for which the only use in the medium term will be for export to China
· The abandonment for new power stations to have an upper limit of 0.8 Tonnes CO2 per MWh carbon emissions.
· Scrapping of Mr Baillieu’s “Greenlight Plan” to convert street lights to energy efficient LED lighting
· Supported the axing of the carbon tax and the Climate Change Council by the Abbott Government
· The withdrawal of $25 million for Geothermal power near Geelong
· Scrapped the Green Government Building Program to make schools and other government buildings more energy efficient
· Diverting money from environmental programs to top up the “Lignite Demonstration Project” that persists with the myth of finding “Clean Coal” and Carbon Capture and Storage schemes that even the power stations will not fund as it will not be financially viable to do so. The latest exemplar of this is the proposed Gippsland Enterprise Development Centre at Fed Uni Churchill.
· Abandoning the VEET scheme, that encouraged the roll out of energy saving devices in homes and businesses –supposedly to be replaced by some as yet unspecified scheme
On top of this litany of anti-environmental actions, the Coalition has overseen the abandonment of the Portland Wave Energy Project and the 100 MW Silex concentrated solar PV development at Mildura, which had the potential to develop Greenhouse Gas free electricity technology that could be sold to other countries, continuing the Howard Governments blindness to new, emerging and potentially financial pots of gold.This is certainly not a government which has any environmental credibility and for them to claim that it has, is pure political spin. As our PM says, “Judge them not on what they say, but on their actions.”

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Gippsland Rail Users Railroaded by Napthine Government

  • Travel times for Gippsland VLine passengers to Melbourne have increased by about 11 minutes on average since 2008 according to the published timetables.
  • Metro trains get priority over VLine services causing further delays and has resulted in Reliability dropping from over 90 % to less than 80% over the term of this Government to be the worst of all the lines in Victoria.
  • VLine customer approval on this line has decreased every year that the Napthine Government has been in power.
  • Things will get much worse if the Unsolicited Offer to upgrade signalling on the Cranbourne and Pakenham Lines proceeds.
  • This proposal, instigated by a consortium headed by MTR, the operator of the Melbourne Metro, will allow for peak Metro trains to have less than 2 minutes separation between successive trains from Dandenong into the City. VLine trains will be forced to slow to the speed of the slowest Metro train ahead of it.  MTR are improving their service delivery at the expense of Gippsland commuters.
  • This could add between 20 and 30 minutes to the travel time from Pakenham to Southern Cross.
  • The planning for this upgrade is being done in secret. Will there be provision for the urgently needed track duplication between Dandenong and Caulfield and for double stacking of containers when level crossings are removed to cater for increased freight traffic? Where is there evidence of a holistic, integrated approach to transport by this Government?
  • Is this another hasty East-West link decision where economics and good planning are overlooked for the sake of appearing to do something?
  • At the moment almost every peak VLine service is overcrowded with the afternoon services being the worst.
  • If more capacity was provided by VLine, then more people would commute by rail and take pressure off the Monash Freeway, which is also at bursting point now.
  • Track duplication will also cater for the massive population growth to the east and south east of Melbourne and allow for upgraded Cranbourne services.
  • The increased patronage would make this work viable with a shortened payback time, but we don’t even know if any of this was considered.
  • The Greens transport plan envisages big investment in public transport and increases in the trains servicing rural areas. Unless the bottle-neck between Dandenong and Caulfield is addressed, then it won’t be possible for these upgrades to be fully effective.
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Can the Latrobe Valley afford to carve out a further allocation of 13 Billion Tonnes of Coal?


On the weekend, the National Party leader Peter Ryan reasserted the Napthine Government’s plan to allocate another 13 billion tonnes of brown coal in the Latrobe Valley. The areas include Maryvale to the west of Tyers, Yinnar, Traralgon Creek, Churchill, Flynn, Gormandale and Rosedale. It is easy to see that he does not live here. It may be timely to remind him of a few things we know about these operations.

  1. Open-cut mining leaves giant non-productive holes in the ground. The Morwell and Yallourn open cuts are totally devoid of wealth generation far into the future. Where maybe 40 rate-paying farms could be supporting Morwell businesses and providing employment, there is nothing. People cannot live there nor can tree plantations exist. If coal mining provided so many jobs, why has Morwell got one of the highest unemployment rates and the lowest house prices in Victoria. Proposing more of the problem to fix unemployment is non-sensical.
  2. 13 billion tonnes of coal when burnt will produce about 35 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas – not an insignificant amount when we really need to be lowering the CO2 content of the atmosphere.
  3. Exposing more coal areas to the atmosphere will magnify the danger of further catastrophic coal fires.
  4. The rest of the world is moving away from coal use and we could be left with ugly stranded assets further devaluing the landscape
  5. Because of automation and super-sized machinery, relatively few permanent jobs will be created.
  6. The destruction of fertile farm land will diminish the number of jobs available in agriculture and also in tourism.
  7. Already some people are leaving the Vallley because of the worry of the health effects from the coal mines and power station emissions. More mines will further erode health.
  8. The Latrobe River is already severely impacted from mines. The Gippsland Lakes, especially the Lake Wellington end cannot sustain much more environmental damage from sustained high water levels inflated with coal mine water and sediment.
  9. We do not need the coal for electricity. At the moment, we have an excess of generation capacity. The only use of this new coal will be for export – probably from Geelong. Is this why the Government won’t release their business model for the East West link? (Where are the Committee for Gippsland when you need them?)
  10. People will not accept operations such as these that devastate the area and are impossible to effectively rehabilitate.

But what is Labor’s position? Peter Batchelor was the Labor Governments Energy minister who devised the plan to advertise world wide for offers to develop this unallocated coal. Will they too fall into the lazy politics of the Napthine Government and see this area as only fit to dig up and ship out to China or will they stand with the Greens in protecting our valuable farmlands and citizens from last Century style destruction. The Greens have consistently said no to any new coal developments anywhere in Victoria. There are now much better ways to provide for our needs.

Dan Caffrey,  Greens Candidate for Morwell.

For further information on the allocation of coal:

Other things Daniel has written about coal and the Latrobe Valley:


Proposed Coal Allocation for the Latrobe Valley

Proposed Coal Allocation for the Latrobe Valley

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