Thankfully for Victorians, that money has not yet been spent. And the proposed new coal-fired power station still doesn’t have the approvals or finance it needs to go ahead.
Unfortunately for Victorians, that’s not for lack of government assistance, and the very real threat of a new coal-fired power station with up to 4 million tonnes of addition greenhouse pollution every year hovers just beyond the election.
Back when the commitment was first made (by then Treasurer Brumby in the lead up to the last state election), HRL was to begin construction in 2007 and be operational in 2009 – yet here we are in 2010 with another state election less than two weeks away and not a sod of dirt has been turned.
The HRL project has faced numerous hurdles and is still struggling to get over some of the biggest of them. The company failed to strike a deal to secure their preferred site in the Latrobe Valley, eventually having to locate on the Energy Brix site that they own themselves. Legal advice provided by the Environment Defenders Office found that their original proposal would be subject to a $50 million a year liability if a carbon price of just $20 a tonne was introduced. Their original Chinese partner backed out of the deal. And it appears that the company is still struggling to secure finance to give the project the go-ahead.
Finally, in October of this year over 4,000 submissions from the general public were made to the Victorian Environment Protection Authority calling on them to reject the works approval for the project.
After all of this, is seems that the only ones still supporting HRL are the state and federal governments. But four years after that initial support was given, it’s time for the Victorian ALP and Coalition parties to change their tune.
The next 10 years are crucial for action on climate change. And anyone putting their hand up to lead at this election will be taking responsibility for climate action for almost half of that time. We need to know that they’re up to the challenge.
Four years, one week and three days after the initial commitment was given, Victorians will be going to the polls to decide whether it’s Premier Brumby or Premier Baillieu we want to lead us through these next four years.