Close to 5000 protesters took to the streets on November 6, demanding the next state government replace the Hazelwood power station with genuinely clean energy during the next term of office. Victoria goes to the polls on November 27.
Rally organisers said Hazelwood was the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases per unit of electricity of any power station in Australia. It is responsible for 3% of the nation’s entire carbon emissions. It’s also the nation’s largest emitter of dioxin, the most toxic known chemical compound.
Cam Walker, from Friends of the Earth, applauded the protesters’ efforts, which have turned Hazelwood from a minor side issue in state politics into one of the big election issues. He said the incumbent Labor government had gone from giving Hazelwood a nearly 30-year extension on its operating licence in 2005, to promising to replace a quarter of its output within the next few years.
The Liberals have no commitment on the issue, while the Greens have released a plan to replace the entire power station by 2014. The Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Party also have committed to a rapid closure of the plant and to replace it with renewable energy.
Other speakers included rally organiser Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, from Environment Victoria, Dean Bridgefoot of the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group, and climate scientist David Karoly.