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John Passant

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November 2010



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Hazelwood must be closed

The environmental case for shutting down the Hazelwood power station is overwhelming. This brown-coal fired plant in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley produces 15 per cent of the state’s total carbon emissions, and it is the biggest carbon emitting facility in Australia.

At 2005 report by the World Wildlife Fund listed Hazelwood as the most carbon intensive power station in the industrialised world. This means it emits more carbon per unit of electricity than any other station. The plant is technologically outmoded, and it is officially passed its used by date. The plant was only built to operate until 2000.

On November 6, there will be a mass rally in Melbourne to demand that the government replace Hazelwood, and instead fund renewable energy sources. Hazelwood has become the central focus for environmental activism in the state.

That the demand for the Victorian government to replace Hazelwood has become so prominent is a step forward regarding current debates about how to tackle climate change. The mantra of both the ALP and the Greens is that setting a price for carbon is the number one priority.

This policy is a total ruse when it comes to protecting the climate. Moreover, it will mean workers paying a higher price for electricity, gas and other essentials. At the same time it will further enrich bankers and other financial parasites, providing them with a new financial instrument to trade in.

Most of the trading of carbon permits under the European Union emissions trading scheme occurred between financial institutions, not polluting industrial firms. The scheme was utterly ineffective in reducing carbon emissions. During the first phase of the scheme from 2005 to 2007, carbon emissions actually rose.

There must be a political solution to climate change. The fossil fuel sector is highly lucrative, and is only becoming more so. There is no likelihood that the capitalists in these industries will do the right thing for humanity and spurn greater profits to save the planet. They have clearly failed to do so. It s one of the great crimes of our lifetime that the pro-capitalist governments of the world have allowed them to emit masses of carbon at will.

Any meaningful progress towards stopping abrupt climate change requires changes in the way that energy is produced. This will require direct government intervention. Demanding that the dilapidated Hazelwood plant be switched off and replaced with renewable energy is the most obvious place to start.

There is a fairly widespread belief that Hazelwood cannot keep running indefinitely, and the Victoria Government acknowledges that the plant will “eventually” need to be “phased out”. But Hazelwood must be replaced it its entirety sooner rather than later. So far the Government has only proposed to close one quarter of the plant by 2014.

Shamefully, the focus of the Government is to negotiate with the multinational corporation that runs Hazelwood, International Power, to discuss paying them a handsome sum of compensation. But it is not these environmental vandals that deserve compensation. They have profited from running a dinosaur plant that has polluted the local area and contributed to climate change.

Instead, the Government ought to direct funds towards the workers at Hazelwood. They should be given their full incomes until they can be found suitable re-employment in the renewable energy sector or in other jobs.

It was positive that the publicity material for the recent rally at Hazelwood on October 10 contained a clear demand for Green Jobs. Investment in renewable energy could create thousands of jobs that could ensure the economic viability of the Latrobe Valley. We should not accept the false dichotomy that is sometimes presented between protecting jobs and protecting the environment.

In that light it is a problem that Environment Victoria did not include a demand to compensate or re-employ the Hazelwood workers on the material for the upcoming November 6 rally.

It is also important that we demand renewable energy as the alternative. Even though a gas-fired plant would almost certainly produce less carbon than Hazelwood, technology exists for energy production that is not based on fossil fuel at all. The Government should massively increase funding of such technologies.

The battle to achieve a speedy closure of Hazelwood matters. The plant’s carbon emissions are disastrous, and switching it off would be a real contribution. This is a winnable demand. Should we win, it can give people concerned about this issue a greater impetus to make demands on the government to take decisions about power generation that will help save the climate, rather than wait for the false “market solutions” of an emissions trading scheme.

This article by Patrick Weiniger first appeared in Socialist Alternative online.



Comment from Auntie Rhoberta
Time November 3, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Mightn’t the non-CO2 emissions of this plant be worse than the CO2? Ie, a better reason for shutting it down, especially if it is clapped out anyway? Also, gas *plus* greater funding for renewables might be the best alternative.

Comment from Hasbeen
Time November 4, 2010 at 9:45 am

I think this is a wonderful idea. I can’t imagine why no one has thought of it before.

But first, lets cut all power lines into Victoria, from other states, so they can’t scream for help, & rip power out of other states, when their economy, food supply, & many other essentials [of modern life] just stop working.

That should stop the idiots voting green in a hurry.

If not, we’ll have a state with lots of spare housing, suitable for rat bags to live in, as the sensible folk flee the mess.

Comment from John
Time November 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Actually the article points out the way forward by moving to renewable energy and making sure the workers in the industry aren’t worse off. Perhaps you should read the article hasbeen.

Capitalism appears incapable of responding to the threat of global warming because it is locked into a particular way of producing – for profit – that makes it incapable of doing anything except if it’s profitable to do so, rather than if humanity needs to do it.

Comment from Sparkyq
Time November 4, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Renewable-schmewable. No renewable power source will ever come close to replacing this power station. The only real solution is nuclear. Time to get real

Comment from Andy Sinclair
Time November 4, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Haha, you have muppets in Oz too. Our UK muppets think all thats needed is to switch them off. Great! But i don’t think the crowds would be so big if they’ve been cooking over a candle and crapping in their garden for a few months!

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