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The closure of the Hazelwood power station is scheduled for 31st March 2017. It has delivered cheap electricity to the National Electricity Market (NEM) for decades but contributed substantially to Australia’s emissions. The community of Morwell and the surrounding LaTrobe Valley has relied on the existence of Hazelwood. It has provided jobs and contributed to the economy for decades.
While the closure of Hazelwood is inevitable, the transition needs to be fair for all involved. What can we learn from the closure of Hazelwood that would apply to future decarbonisation efforts of the energy sector? What are the possibilities and barriers in relation to the mine remediation? Are there options to reuse the mine pit in any way? What does the community want? How can a transition be just for all involved?
The public seminar to explore these questions was hosted by Dr. Sara Bice from the University of Melbourne School of Government. The seminar focussed on the feasibility of mine remediation and the wishes and concerns that are voiced by the community and the workforce.
Dr. Sara Bice, Director of Research Translation and Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Government, University of Melbourne.
Dr. Gavin Mudd, Associate Professor Chemical and Environmental Engineering, RMIT.
Ben Davison, Chief of Staff at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).
Marianne Robinson, a member of the Voices of the Valley.
The panel discussion and Q&A was supported by Bronya Lipski and Dan Musil. Bronya works for Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) that uses its legal expertise to protect nature and defend the rights of communities to a healthy environment. Bronya is from the Latrobe Valley and familiar with the issues surrounding the Hazelwood closure and potential future liability. Dan is Secretary of the Earthworker Cooperative, a union-environmental initiative to re-imagine the 'jobs vs environment' debate and establish worker-run renewable energy manufacturing cooperatives starting in the Latrobe Valley. Dan is also undertaking PhD research into low-carbon transition and worker-ownership in the Latrobe Valley, where he lives.