Photo Opp: Protesters wearing masks of Premier Ted Baillieu & Energy Minister Michael O'Brien will hand over a huge cheque for $385 million to coal company HRL Ltd. The protest is highlighting a dodgy back room deal being done to wipe the company’s debt so they can build a new coal power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. The protesters will then walk to the Treasury building and attempt to cash the cheque.
When: 11am TODAY Thursday, 30 June
Contact: Shaun Murray 0402 337 077
Why: With the end of financial year looming, HRL Ltd – the company proposing to build a new coal fired power plant at Morwell – is due to pay back a $385 million debt to Victorian taxpayers, but observers are expecting a back-room deal to let the company off the hook.
The debt arises from a licence issued in 1995 for HRL to use publicly owned intellectual property rights relating to coal drying and gasification. HRL wants to use the technology in the new Morwell coal power plant. The licence expires on the 30th June 2011, so by rights, HRL should now either hand back the IP, or pay the Victorian Government $385 million.
Neither the state government or the company have yet publicly stated how they intend to resolve the issue, but if HRL Ltd is forced to pay up, it will be financially impossible for them to build the new coal fired power plant.