Close to 5000 protesters took to Melbourne's 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 pointed out that Hazelwood is 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 by itself. It is also the nation’s largest emitter of dioxin, the most toxic known chemical compound.
Speaker Cam Walker, from Friends of the Earth, applauded the efforts of the protesters for turning Hazelwood to a minor side-issue in state politics into one of the major issues of the election. He pointed out that the incumbent Labor government of John Brumby has gone from giving Hazelwood a nearly 30-year extension on it’s operating licence in 2005, to promising to replace a quarter of its output within the next few years. The whole rally loudly voiced their concern that Hazelwood must be replaced completely.
Rally organiser Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, from Environment Victoria, told the rally that the new coal power station planned by the HRL company (and supported by the Labor government) will produce as much greenhouse emissions as the quarter of Hazelwood that is to be replaced.
Dean Bridgefoot of the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group pointed out that China is installing many times Hazelwood’s generating capacity each year in wind power alone, and there is no reason Australia cannot emulate this.