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Damien Lawson on why we need to close the Hazelwood Power Station | by John Englart (Takver)
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Damien Lawson on why we need to close the Hazelwood Power Station

Climate activists held a picket outside the ministerial offices of Peter Batchelor, Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, at 1 Spring Street, Melbourne highlighting his attendance at a $3000 a head Victorian Coal and Energy Conference meeting at Taralgon in the La Trobe Valley and the Brumby Government's continued in-action on climate change and support for the coal and fossil fuel industry at the expense of developing the renewable energy industry.


Damien Lawson is from the Victorian Climate Action Centre


Transcript of speech


This year, is one of the most important years for climate action in Victoria. We've had two years of debate and discussion about how big a problem climate change is. There is widespread understanding now in the community about how big a problem it is. That means we can put enormous pressure on our state and federal Governments leading up to the coming Federal and State Election.


To take real action on Climate change.


How do we know when the State and Federal Government are taking real action on climate change?


Well, we've heard the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme isn't real action, and really its a very very simple test.


Are they taking coal out of the ground and burning it, or are they leaving coal in the ground where it should remain and safely lock away the carbon that is such a threat to, not only firefighters, but geneations to come?


So let's apply that test in Victoria. We've had a Labor Government in Victoria for a decade. John Brumby, who's now Premier, was Treasurer over all that time. What hapenned to the brown coal in Victoria over that time?


Well we know because a recent study was released a couple of weeks ago showed that emissions from burning brown coal in Victoria went up 10 per cent over the last decade. In other words, we haven't been keeping coal in the ground but digging more of it up and burning more of it over the last decade on John Brumby's watch.


So what we want to do this year in the climate movement is turn that around. Not only do we want to stop the 12 new coal fired power stations that are being built around the country, or have plans to be built around the country this year.


We want to go further. We actually want to close and replace an existing power station. And the power station we should all be focused on is the Hazelwood Power station. It is in the Latrobe Valley. It is the dirtiest power station in Australia. It puts over 17 million tonnes of carbon pollution into the atmosphere. It is the biggest single emitter of dioxin in Australia. It's an industrial dinosaur from decades and decades ago. It was built, actually one of the people who built it was my grandfather, in the 1950s and 1960s and it was due to be closed in 2005.


But John Brumby and the Labor Party decided to keep it open. But this year we have a window of opportunity, and the window of opportunity is this election and the fact that the public is clamouring for real action on climate change.


What we're going to be doing is doorknocking, leafleting the inner city in Victoria where Labor Party faces the loss of many seats to the Greens. Putting forward to the public this key election test and that is: will the State and Federal Government commit to replacing Hazelwood Power Station with clean energy by 2012?


Not 'we're going to do something about climate change', not 'climate change is the great moral issue of our time', we are going to close a power station and replace it with clean energy before it is due to be closed and therefore locking up that coal that power station would otherwise have burnt.


That's the key test for John Brumby over the next six months, and I really invite you to be part of this campaign to get that key test out into the community. It can create jobs in the Latrobe Valley. If we replace Hazelwood with clean energy we can create jobs in the Latrobe Valley and create climate jobs across Victoria. It can be done. With wind, with solar, with energy efficiency we can replace Hazelwood with clean energy. I really invite you to be part of that.




Watch a video of the speech

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Taken on March 29, 2010