Environment Victoria has today criticised a new State and Federal Government fund to support brown coal projects in the Latrobe Valley, saying that both governments were refusing to learn any lessons from recent experience and are obsessed with the coal resource at the expense of other industries.
Environment Victoria’s Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said today:
“Martin Ferguson and Michael O’Brien are throwing good money after bad in their pursuit of brown coal projects.
“Just last week the Federal Government finally conceded that the HRL coal-fired power station had failed to meet all its milestones and withdrew the $100m federal grant.
“And yet now both governments are proposing a new $90 million fund which will once again raise false hopes in the Latrobe Valley and waste taxpayers’ money and valuable time in the fight to halt climate change.
“This new fund is on top of existing funds to support the coal industry such as the Federal Government’s $1.68 billion CCS flagships program and the State Government’s $430 million ETIS program. It’s not as though we’re not already throwing enough taxpayers’ money at the coal industry.”
Mr Wakeham said that while the Baillieu Government struggled to find funding in the State Budget for environment programs, public transport, renewable energy or the National Disability Insurance Scheme, they seemed to have a bottomless pit when it comes to coal projects.
“The Baillieu Government is actively undermining the renewable energy industry by making wind farms more difficult to build and reducing support for solar power. Yet renewable energy industries are ready to go right now and among the world’s fastest growing industries. Meanwhile so-called ‘clean coal’ projects are languishing, with even the coal industry accepting that carbon capture and storage is decades away from commercialisation and may never arrive.
“If Ministers Ferguson and O’Brien were serious about creating jobs and investment in the Latrobe Valley this fund would be technology-neutral, and renewable energy projects in Gippsland could apply. However this is not about jobs, it’s about keeping the dream alive for a polluting fuel that is beyond its use by date.”
Mr Wakeham expressed disappointment that the Federal Government has still not delivered on its overdue commitment to replace up to 2000 MW of coal under its contracts for closure program.
“The Federal Government made a clear commitment under its carbon price package to seek contracts for closure for the retirement of up to 2000 MW of Australia’s dirtiest power stations. Instead of encouraging more polluting projects, Minister Ferguson should be in the Latrobe Valley focusing on delivering this commitment and securing the replacement of our oldest and most polluting power stations like Hazelwood.
Mark Wakeham 0439 700 501