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.