Victorian candidates say renewables, not fossil fuels

November 20, 2014

Sean Brocklehurst is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale and Sarah Hathway is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Geelong in the Victorian elections on November 29. They released this statement on November 16.

Climate change is already killing hundreds of people in extreme heatwaves each year in Australia.

Australia’s dependence on fossil fuels and road transport are big contributors. More than 1000 Australians die each year from air pollution, mainly from fossil fuels. We need a rapid shift to renewable energy.

Victoria: Big coal state

Denis Napthine's government has run the state in the interests of big corporations, including the owners of coal-fired power stations. The state government has cut restrictions on carbon emissions from coal-burning plants, handed out licences for new coal-burning plants and coal-mining ventures, and supported large subsidies to polluters.

Meanwhile, it has made it virtually impossible for wind power projects to get built.

Oil, coal and gas mining and power generation will receive about $10 billion in subsidies from the federal government this year, compared with about $300 million for renewable energy.

Victoria is home to Australia’s dirtiest power plant, the brown coal-burning Hazelwood in the La Trobe Valley.

Hazelwood emits 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year, 15% of Victoria’s total, and is the largest emitter of dioxin pollution in Australia.

A fire at the plant spread toxic smoke across the valley in March. The Coalition and Labor refuse to shut down this disastrous polluter.

No fracking way!

Unconventional gas extraction including shale gas, tight gas and coal seam gas is an unregulated environmental and social disaster. It is vandalism for profit supported by the big parties and the state.

From its core activities in Queensland, unconventional gas extraction, commonly using the method known as fracking, is spreading like a cancer across the country. Farmlands are destroyed, water from aquifers is lost or contaminated, there is significant noise pollution and surface ponds of highly contaminated extraction water are created.

Fracking is a desperate attempt by corporations and governments to maintain dependence on fossil fuels.

A huge expansion of renewables would create jobs — from research and development to construction — reduce and then eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels and help break the stranglehold multinational oil companies have on the political system in Australia.

Public concern about unconventional gas extraction is growing in spite of government attempts to stifle dissent through increased police powers and attempts by governments and corporate interests to control the media agenda.

A campaign of big rallies and mass community blockades around Lismore, in northern NSW, has so far defeated attempts to begin fracking in that region and has brought plans for unconventional gas extraction in that state to a standstill.

We need to campaign to:
Replace Victoria’s dirty coal-fired power stations with renewable energy such as solar thermal plants;
• Repeal the Napthine government’s anti-wind farm laws;
• Ban coal seam gas exploration and development;
• Reduce car use, expand public transport;
• Establish heat refuges for people to take shelter from extreme heat;
• Take the energy industry back into public hands to make the shift to renewables.

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