A week of action against the Kurri Kurri gas plant was organised by the Gas Free Hunter Alliance (GFHA), School Students for Climate Action (SS4CA) and Workers for Climate Action (W4CA). The proposed gas-fired power station in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley is part of the Scott Morrison government’s so-called “gas-fired recovery.”
Campaigners said the project threatens Gomeroi lands in the Pilliga and surrounding areas and that the project will cost around $600 million in public funds.
The week of online events culminated in an 150 person–strong online forum on August 27.
Kurri Kurri local resident Janet Murray said, “The planned Kurri Kurri gas plant is a dinosaur, which will create very few ongoing jobs.” Anti-fracking activist Dayne Pratzky, star of the anti-coal seam gas film Frackman, told the forum that “building this gas plant will increase gas prices in NSW.”
Pratzky spoke about the devastating impacts of coal seam gas on his community in Queensland. He said fracking “destroyed the area, and merely boosted production of greenhouse gases.”
Participants sent out a coordinated barrage of emails and social media posts targeting federal and state government ministers.
Two days previously, on August 25, W4CA in Sydney held an online rally under the theme: "Stop the Kurri Kurri gas plant. Build public renewables. No to Santos' Narrabri gas field. Yes to climate jobs." The rally was attended by almost 100 people.
Wonnarua traditional owner Scott Franks addressed the rally. He pointed out the shared “moral responsibility to protect our land and environment for future generations” and warned the plant would have a “huge” negative impact on First Nations peoples.
Carly Phillips from the GFHA told the rally that during a recent inquiry, only two out of 257 submissions from the public supported the Kurri Kurri plant. “We need to turn away from fossil fuels, not turn back to gas to produce our power," she said.
“The plant is a huge waste of money,” Phillips continued. “Imagine the better way those funds could be spent: on public health, hospitals, and renewable energy projects in the Hunter.”
Campbell Knox from SS4CA spoke about the need for solidarity. “Workers' rights and climate justice are at the bottom of the list of priorities for the big corporations and their system. Students and unions need to stand together for a fossil-fuel free future," he said.
Maritime Union of Australia researcher Penny Howard discussed plans for renewable energy projects in the Hunter region, including those involving wind power. Howard explained that “workers from the off-shore gas and oil sector have transferable skills for the off-shore wind industry ... and plans are in train for a large floating wind farm 20 to 30 kilometres off the Newcastle coast”.
Finally, Michael Gilray, a Hunter Valley home-care worker and member of the United Workers Union, said the $600 million slated for the gas plant should instead be put towards allowing workers in the fossil fuel industry to transition to the renewable energy industry. Gilray had recently initiated a petition calling for the $600 million slated for the gas plant to go instead to a just transition.
[Sign the petition here to support the campaign against the Kurri Kurri gas plant.]