The Silence of our Pollies

Tyrannosaurus Bullii

Letter published in Gippsland Times 31/7

I write to express my dismay and disapproval of the current performance of both our State and Federal members of parliament on clean energy and climate change. I recently wrote to both offering to discuss the complex issues involved in an open and ‘amicable’ manner. Neither have bothered to reply.

The National Party have been championing coal for some time and have been calling for new, clean coal fired power stations to be built with public money. There is no such thing as clean coal and these power stations are dependent on carbon, capture and storage (CCS) another unproven and uneconomic technology. If in the most unlikely event that any one of these stations is built it will be a ‘stranded asset’ and an enormous drain on our country’s finances. Similarly the Nationals support for the coal to hydrogen project is also dependent on CCS.

They remain silent on the potential destruction of farmland by Coal Seam Gas. Has Mr Bull expressed an opinion on an issue many his landholding constituents consider vital? We are also bombarded with scare tactics on energy pricing and clean energy. One example of this I recall was Mr Chester claiming we would be $500 better off when the carbon tax was abolished. Perhaps we should be comparing our power bills then and now?

Both Mr Bull and Mr Chester also remain silent on the alternatives to coal –solar, wind, batteries, high voltage direct current connecting cables and an electrified transport system, even pumped hydro – which could have substantial benefits for our communities. Mr Chester did make a speech at the opening of the Gippsland Solar electric vehicle charging station in Traralgon in 2016 and go for a ride in a Tesla but as far as I am aware he has done nothing else on this and similar matters. The fact remains that many rural communities are benefiting from the growth of clean energy and many farms are being drought-proofed. Gippsland, with a few exceptions, is missing out.

Whilst Mr Chester is silent on climate change his position on coal shows clearly he either denies or disregards it. Perhaps he is a closet member of the Monash Forum? Mr Bull appears to grudgingly accept that it is happening but like many Gippslanders suggests that it is natural. This again is demonstrably incorrect and disempowers people as they believe they can do nothing about it. Close to all qualified climate scientists (97.5%) accept that climate change is man-made and happening now. This means that extreme weather events like floods, droughts, heatwaves, and bushfires are already being made more frequent and more severe in a warming Gippsland.

By championing coal our representatives are denying the laws of physics – they may as well claim the earth is flat, or there is no such thing as gravity. One assumes that they use computers, mobile phones and many of the other benefits modern science and medicine have endowed us with. Choosing which science you like and ignoring that you don’t like is not an option.

Mr Bull and Mr Chester may see fit to ignore both possible damage caused by climate change and the benefits that clean, decentralised energy can bring to their communities. But surely they will not ignore the harm that will eventually extend to their own families if nothing is done. In the long run science and physics will always defeat politics and the current position of our local members is absurd.