GDF SUEZ urged to pay

Former Morwell independent candidate Tracie Lund has instigated a petition to pressure GDF SUEZ to pay an $18 million invoice to the Country Fire Authority.

Posted on Monday, the ‘community-run’ online petition supported by Hazelwood mine fire advocacy group Voices of the Valley and advertised through Get Up Australia, has already secured more than 5000 signatures.

It follows media reports the mine operator received an $18 million invoice from the CFA in March this year for the Hazelwood mine firefighting effort.

GDF SUEZ has refused to pay the sum, arguing the cost of the effort was covered by its fire services levy contribution amid State Government pressure and talk of legal action.

Ms Lund, who was successful in securing 25,000 signatures for a long-term health study following the mine fire, said the petition was a logical step to generate conversation.

“There’s nothing like public and community pressure to raise the bar,” Ms Lund said.

The Morwell Neighbourhood House and Learning Centre coordinator said GDF SUEZ’s refusal to pay had angered residents and the multinational company had a social obligation to the community.

“They owe the community quite a lot here and this would be the first step towards that,” Ms Lund said.

A GDF SUEZ spokesman said the company respected people’s right to comment on the matter, however the company had already made its position clear.

The spokesman said he would like to reiterate the company had spent close to $60 million in relation to the Hazelwood mine fire, including the fire services levy for the firefighting effort.

“The fire services levy is designed from an insurance point of view and is paid regularly from our position,” he said.