Today I attended the Stop HRL demonstration . The government plans to spend $100,000,000 of federal money and $50,000,000 of Victorian state money to build a new coal power station. The state government has imposed some unreasonable restrictions on renewable energy which includes allowing a single person who objects within 2Km of a wind turbine to block the project while also not allowing anyone to object to coal power plants or fracking (both of which have proven health implications). Today VCAT had a hearing about this issue, HRL wants to double the size of the proposed coal power plant while Environment Victoria, Doctors for the Environment Australia, local climate action group Locals Into Victoria’s Environment Martin Shield from Climate Action Moreland are opposing the plan.
What the government should be doing is permitting (if not encouraging) renewable energy production, particularly wind power which will drive down energy prices by undercutting the energy auctions due to it’s almost zero marginal cost. The government should not be spending tax payer money on new coal projects due to climate change and air pollution – in addition to the fact that coal is simply more expensive in the long term.
As usual it’s disappointing that the National party which supposedly represents farmers is supporting the government in such things. The pollution caused by coal power and fracking ends up damaging farmland. The Liberal party doesn’t have a majority on it’s own in either house of the state government, so this proposed coal power plant could be stopped immediately if the National party supported renewable power, or even if they merely opposed giving $50,000,000 of state tax money to HRL.
The demonstration went reasonably well, there was about 80 people there when I arrived and by the time it ended there were more than 150 people. I took the above picture at the start and it missed many people who were off to the right. I think that’s a good result for a demonstration that had little publicity and was held in business hours with really bad weather.
On Sunday the 13th of November at 13:00-14:30 there is a “Going Backwards Under Baillieu” demonstration at Parliament House. This is to mark the negative affects that the Liberal state government has had on the environment of Victoria.