Locals vocal at gas rally
SOUTH Gippslanders were among the 250 people to gather on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne last Tuesday, February 9 to call on the State Government to ban onshore gas.
The group also called for an ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) to encourage more growth in the renewable energy market.
Among them were members of Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North.
Flanked by politicians, community groups from throughout Victoria were well represented, from western to eastern Victoria, and to South Gippsland.
Contingents from Melbourne demonstrated the growing alliance between regional and metropolitan communities.
“Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North were pleased to join with the Melbourne supporters who did an amazing job organising the rally and attracting high calibre speakers to the event,” Coal and CSG Free Mirboo North member Marg Thomas said.
“It was interesting to see the Liberal Shadow Minister for Renewables David Southwick stand with Trades Hall Council secretary Luke Hilakari and the Greens to call for a growth in renewables, although none except the Greens committed to a total ban.”
The Greens were well represented by Member for Melbourne Ellen Sandell and Eastern Metropolitan Region MLC Samantha Dunn, who was also on the committee for the Inquiry into Unconventional Gas. Both addressed the rally.
Ms Dunn highlighted her experiences on the inquiry committee, in particular the evidence presented by regional people concerning the immense toll the threat of the onshore gas industry has on the lives of those affected; the uncertainty surrounding their livelihoods, way of life and environment.
She also stated all Greens support a total ban on onshore gas.
Mr Halikari said, “The Andrews Government has the opportunity to put the wind back in the sails by setting an ambitious VRET. It’s the right thing for the environment and the right thing for Victorian workers.”
Mr Southwick said, “Victoria and Australia are experiencing a renewables revolution lead by the people.”
The Liberals support a moratorium on onshore gas until 2020.
Bengworden farmer Gerard Deery described his love of the land and his concern the water catchment would be placed at risk if the gas industry developed.
He talked of his hope for a future based on care and respect for the land and waterways, not an industry imposed on the community.
He called on the Premier to stand by communities who have been fighting to stay gasfield free for five years.
“Nothing less than a total ban on onshore unconventional gas will do,” he said.
An impassioned speech by Wendy Farmer from Voices of the Valley, highlighted the struggles the people of the Latrobe Valley have faced after the Hazelwood mine fire and their determination to transition to renewable energy.
“The rally is a powerful acknowledgement that Melbourne residents knows what is happening in country areas and are prepared to stand by communities to make change happen,” she said.
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