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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