Hundreds protest over Rudd’s backflip
By Jenny Jägerhorn | Melbourne Editor
Around 250 people gathered on the steps of Melbourne’s Parliament House on Thursday to call for the closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station by 2012 and its replacement with clean energy alternatives.
The demonstration came in the wake of the Rudd Government’s backflip on climate change and uncertainty about the future carbon pricing.
“We are here today to send a message to Kevin Rudd and John Brumby that we are angry and disappointed with the backflips on climate change. Now that they’ve rejected putting a price on carbon they still need to take action on climate change and the next step they should take is committing to replace Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest power station, with clean energy by 2012,” said Damien Lawson, coordinator of the Victorian Climate Action Centre.
Mr Lawson said the campaigners also expressed anger over the recent state budget because there was nothing in it to drive the transition to clean energy.
The environmentalists want the government to be aware that there is strong community feeling about this issue.
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“Last weekend we door knocked 13, 000 homes in Coburg and everyone we spoke to could see the sense in acting on climate change and starting on Hazelwood. During the next months we will continue with the door-knocking across Melbourne,“ said Mr Lawson.
The crowd was diverse including people of all ages, the youngest one’s just small children. All were united in shouts destined for the Members of Parliament with slogans such as “Switch off coal, wind and solar now!” and “John Brumby replace Hazelwood!”
Tim Baxter, one of the demonstrators, made the decision last week to come to the rally after hearing about Kevin Rudd’s decision on the carbon emission scheme.
“I have a two year old daughter and I want her to have a safe future. Closing down Hazelwood is the first step to make sure she does,” said Tim Baxter.
The climate actors will organize more events during the next months.
“We’ve got an up-coming national day of action in July on Hazelwood where people across the country will be coming out on a weekend to show that they want to replace Hazelwood power station with clean energy,” said Mr Lawson.
He believes it is completely realistic to replace Hazelwood by 2012, required there is leadership and ambition and commitment from the government.
“It would require new investments in clean renewable energy, investments in energy efficiency and demand management both in the commercial and residential area, but it can be done and we have to start somewhere,“ said Mr Lawson.
Mr Brumby was contacted about the issue while sitting inside.
The rally was called by the Alternative Technology Association, Environment Victoria, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Moreland Energy Foundation Ltd, Victorian Climate Action Centre and Yarra Climate Action Now.
Jenny Jägerhorn is a GEJI exchange student currently at Monash University in Melbourne.