Media Releases | 3rd Apr, 2014

Jobs crisis, Hazelwood fire highlights need for Victorian clean energy jobs plan

3 April 2014

A public forum at Melbourne University tonight will hear that Victoria could create thousands of renewable energy jobs quickly with the right policies.

The forum, organised by Environment Victoria, comes as Victoria faces a jobs crisis in manufacturing, and as the costs of coal-fired electricity generation escalate with the recent Hazelwood mine fire.

Mark Wakeham, the Acting CEO of Environment Victoria said that Victorians were crying out for clean energy job opportunities, after the recent job losses in the manufacturing industry, and that clean energy was ready and waiting to take up the slack.

“The Hazelwood mine fire raged out of control for over a month, dumping toxic smoke over 12,000 residents – we can’t continue burning coal, it creates too many costly health impacts for people and the environment,” Mr Wakeham said.

“The health burden of coal is immense. The Australian Academy of Technical Sciences and Engineering estimated the costs to health of burning coal to be $2.6 billion every year.[1]

“Victoria is also facing a jobs crisis. In January of this year, Victoria reached its highest unemployment rate in a decade – we need to explore new opportunities.

“Victoria has also had a number of large manufacturing businesses announce their intention to depart, including Holden, Alcoa and Toyota.

“Clean renewable energy, with the right policy settings, can take up some of the slack.

“The rapid loss of manufacturing jobs requires a change in direction and a rethink. Why isn’t Victoria protecting and pursuing jobs in solar water heating in factories in the south-eastern suburbs, or wind tower manufacturing in Portland, instead of attempting to develop new polluting brown coal mines?

“The challenge for the Napthine Government and whoever wins the 2014 state election is to develop a jobs agenda and plan that looks forward to the industries of the future.

“The Napthine Government has so far failed this test, pursuing outdated and uneconomic industries through its attempts to develop a brown coal export industry, and shrinking jobs in wind and solar energy and energy efficiency through their anti-environment and anti-jobs policies.

“We call on the state government to urgently develop a jobs plan that will protect the environment, create regional jobs and put Victoria at the forefront of the cleantech industries of the 21st century,” he said.

Event Details: Quick, Clean jobs for Victoria
When: Thursday April 3, 6pm
Where: Howard Woodruff Theatre, Building 184, Melbourne University

Speakers include:
Professor John Wiseman      Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute
Mark Wakeham   Environment Victoria CEO
Tim Sonnreich        Clean Energy Council Strategic Policy Manager
Taryn Lane              Hepburn Wind
Professor Mike Sandiford    Melbourne Energy Institute
Craig Memery        Alternative Technology Association
Lily D’Ambrosio     ALP Shadow Energy Minister
For more information please contact Adrian Dodd on 0401 726 476

[1] “The Hidden Costs of Electricity”, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (2009)