Darren Chester* has published a long post on his Facebook page discussing the Integrated System Plan (ISP) recently released by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Chester’s response includes a summary of the plan, but his focus quite rightly is Gippsland. One of the key points Chester advocates is a delay in closure of the remaining brown coal power stations as they ‘only’ contribute 7.5% of our national electricity grids emissions and Australia only emits 1.5% of global emissions. He justifies this due to his concern for the workers employed in the fossil fuel industry.
Chester’s argument has sparked my anger. I was one of the East Gippsland Climate Action Network members that met with Chester in 2019, not long before the unprecedented fires that engulfed much of the East coast of Australia. Chester’s response to our anxiety about the rate of global heating and his government’s poor response to action was that he was not as concerned as we were. Of course we probably already had low expectations as Chester has consistently and indeed always voted with his government as they have eliminated the price on carbon, eviscerated every policy that was designed to reduce emissions and stymied effective action by states and industry to tackle the global emergency.
So this man, who was an active opponent of change, is berating the lack of care for people in his electorate who will lose work when the power plants close. Where was his planning and care for a transition when he was in power? Where was his foresight in ensuring new industries were in place to ensure a viable future for the region? Where was his support for a just transition from fossil fuel to a renewable energy led future for our region? Where indeed is his care for the people of Australia as they increasingly suffer the devastating effects of climate change. (to be continued)