Bandt: Governments “half-baked” on Valley transition scale

Michelle Slater

Federal Greens leader Adam Bandt predicts the state and federal governments will be “caught with their pants down” if Yallourn closes early as they have underestimated the scale required for adequate transition.

Mr Bandt told The Express how the party’s Green New Deal would benefit the Latrobe Valley in the Greens’ plans to move to 100 per cent renewables by 2030.

The newly-minted Greens leader said the human and ecological costs to the Valley would be “much bigger” if there was not an immediate up-scaled investment in the region.

“They (state and federal governments) have been going about this half-baked, (the) transition has not been done very well and no one is talking about the scale of the transition or money needed,” Mr Bandt said.

“If we don’t have this plan in place then decisions will be made in boardrooms overseas and companies will pull out a moment’s notice when the shareholders say so.”

Mr Bandt called for the Valley to become a renewable energy and manufacturing hub, with new industries creating high-paying jobs for the existing workforce and transmission lines to carry extra capacity.

However, he rejected a push to develop a local economy based on low-emissions uses for the Valley’s brown coal, including a new coal-to-hydrogen pilot plant at Loy Yang.

“There are far cleaner ways to produce hydrogen from renewables. The science is simple, coal needs to stay in the ground,” he said.

“We owe a debt of thanks to the workers on coal-fired power stations it’s our responsibility to say thank you because these workers helped the keep economy going and helped to keep the lights on.”

Mr Bandt cited opportunities in electric vehicle manufacturing and recycling centres with opportunities for the Valley to ramp-up electricity generation by 50 per cent through renewables.

He said these industries needed to be in place to build up enough renewables capacity to switch off coal-fired power stations within the decade.

“With the risk of Yallourn closing early, governments will be caught with their pants down like they were with Hazelwood,” he said.

“The Valley is not being taken seriously, and I see a repeat of what happened with Holden. Everyone accepts coal-fired power stations will close early, but something needs to replace them.”

The Member for Melbourne commended the work of the Latrobe Valley Authority, but said such a scheme needed to be in place sooner and with more long-term investment.

“Governments are not being serious or honest about the level of support that’s needed as people are falling through the cracks. We need to take everyone with us and not leave anyone behind.

“People have had enough of politicians trying to sell them a monorail,” he said, referring to The Simpsons where a city-slicker sold the town a dodgy project.