News | 25th Jun, 2010

Crean jostled by coal protesters

Saturday, 25 June 2010
Money, Ninemsn

Trade Minister Simon Crean has been jostled by a small group of protesters angry at a deal to sell Victorian brown coal to Vietnam.

Mr Crean was greeted at the Langham Hotel in Melbourne's CBD by about 40 protesters, some of whom carried placards that read "Julia: Will you pass the climate test?" and "No jobs on a dead planet".

The protesters were critical of a trade deal that could see Environmental Clean Technologies sell as much as 20 million tonnes of treated brown coal a year to a Vietnamese company.

As Mr Crean tried to enter the building, several protesters blocked his path while others chanted "Shame Simon shame, coal exports no".

Later Mr Crean said the government was committed to addressing climate change.

"It is the technical solutions that really provide important opportunities going forward, this is such an investment," Mr Crean told reporters.

"This is a technology that not only cleans the coal, it extracts the water and re-uses the water.

"They are entitled to protest, but I don't think the vast bulk of the Australian people think exporting coal is bad for the Australian economy."

Greens Senate candidate Dr Richard Di Natale, who was at the protest, said the deal was an opportunity for new Prime Minister Julia Gillard to back up her position on climate change.

"She mentioned harnessing the wind and the sun – she didn't mention brown coal in that speech and what I'd like to see is that rhetoric backed up with some real action," Dr Di Natale said.

Also at the protest was Environment Victoria chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy, who said climate change was still one of the most important issues for voters and was behind recent leadership jostling in both major parties.

"Political leaders who aren't prepared to lead on climate change don't remain leaders very long," Ms O'Shanassy said.

More resources

Check out our media release on this brown coal export deal

See photos from the Brown Coal export protest and the media coverage of it

Read about the last time we stopped the government's exporting plans for brown coal in their tracks