Blog | 8th Dec, 2010

The campaign to Replace Hazelwood rolls on

The campaign to Replace Hazelwood power station has grown throughout 2010 to become the single biggest environmental issue in Victoria this year, and one of the key issues of the state election.

Our campaign, which engaged tens of thousands of Victorians over the course of the year, resulted in a commitment to completely replace Hazelwood in the next term of government from The Greens, and a commitment to replace one quarter of the power station by 2014 from the then ALP state government. Unfortunately, the Victorian Coalition is yet to make any commitment to replace Hazelwood.

But the campaign has also achieved some big wins beyond Hazelwood. The target to cut Victoria’s greenhouse pollution by 20 percent by 2020 that was passed into legislation earlier this year with support of all parties was a direct result of our campaign for action. What’s more, the new Coalition government has also committed to extend the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target, to have 5 percent of Victoria’s energy from solar power by 2020, and to bring all existing Victorian homes up to an average 5 star rating. None of this would have been possible without the pressure created by the Replace Hazelwood campaign.

But the recent change in government in Victoria has left some supporters scratching their heads, wondering what this means for the campaign moving forward.

Do we give up? Throw in the towel? Say we tried our hardest, but concede defeat? No way!

The campaign to replace Hazelwood is far from over. In fact, we’re just getting started.

We always knew taking on such a big campaign was going to be hard. And the commitments we did manage to achieve in the lead up to the state election from The Greens and the ALP were far from complete. In the case of the ALP, despite the rhetoric, under their leadership three quarters of Hazelwood could have continued to pollute indefinitely.

Reflecting upon the year that’s been and the challenges of the year to come shows that the campaign is well placed to keep moving in leaps and bounds through 2011 until we achieve our goal.

Replacing Hazelwood has strong support from across Victoria, with community and climate action groups across the state getting involved in a big way, and new supporters joining the campaign in droves. The level of community support and acceptance that Hazelwood is a problem and needs to be replaced is significantly higher than it was just twelve months ago, and is a tribute to the hard work of all involved.

What’s more is that the new Coalition Government will need to develop a plan to meet their legislated target to reduce Victoria’s greenhouse pollution by 20 percent by 2020. This will be impossible without cutting pollution from coal.

We also know that the owners of the power station, International Power still want to negotiate a plan to retire the power station – and they’re not talking about just one quarter. They want to shut the lot

The unions involved in the Latrobe Valley representing the local workers and community have also been supportive of plans to phase out the power station in a way that gives certainty to local workers about what their future looks like, and that facilitates new investment in the Latrobe Valley. If government commits to a clear timeline for the replacement of Hazelwood, the unions, workers and the community will be better able to negotiate a transition plan to a sustainable future for their local economy.

Finally, the federal government is currently negotiating a price on pollution with the independents and Greens in Canberra. We’ll be working hard at Environment Victoria to make sure that the government puts forward a price that is strong enough to drive the changes to our society and economy that we need to achieve big cuts to our pollution. A key test of the new price on pollution will be whether or not it is strong enough to replace our dirtiest power stations like Hazelwood with clean energy in this next term of government.

With this objective as a key test, we’ll be able to hold the government to account over their price on pollution and make sure we get a price that not only works to replace Hazelwood, but also delivers lasting change across the country for a clean energy future.

2010 has been a tough year. We faced a federal election, a state election, and ran one of the biggest campaigns on climate change in Australia. We couldn’t have done it without you and your continued support. Thank you, for your hard work, for your dedication, and for your unwavering commitment to a clean, healthy environment for us all.

We hope that over the Christmas and New Year period you get a chance to relax, recharge your batteries, and maybe even enjoy our beautiful beaches, swim in our briefly swollen rivers, or explore our precious national parks (maybe you’ll even get to see the newly protected River Red Gum forests). And then next year, we hope to see you again, as we come back together to make sure our governments take the action we need to replace Hazelwood and deliver a real price on pollution to cut emissions and move towards a sustainable healthy environment for all.