Over a number of years, I have been a very strong advocate for cleaner air for Anglesea and the Surf Coast.
I have spoken out frequently about the high levels of S02 being emitted from the power station, three times higher than Hazlewood power station. And I have argued that regulations governing S02 emissions were not good enough.
I have campaigned for Alcoa to install sulphur dioxide scrubbers. In a coastal town where there are homes just 500 metres from a coal-fired power station, it was regrettable that Alcoa continually refused to install S02 scrubbers.
In light of mounting evidence about the health risks associated with SO2, I also successfully argued that S02 should be placed on the agenda for a National Clean Air Agreement.
Combined with its proximity to homes, it was clear that Alcoa’s coal fired power station did not have a sustainable future.
The closure of the power station will mean cleaner air for the Surf Coast and a gross reduction in C02 emissions of more than 1 million tonnes a year. The net saving in Australia’s C02 emissions will be approximately 3 million tonnes between now and 2020.
As a strong environmentalist, I am passionate about ensuring we have clean air.
Now it is up to Alcoa to rehabilitate this site so that it can be enjoyed for generations now and into the future.
At this time, my thoughts are with the 85 workers from Alcoa and their families. This is a very difficult time.
I commend Alcoa on its $5 million contribution to the $29.5m Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund which is playing an important role in creating new jobs for manufacturing workers. So far some 750 jobs have been created.
Now, more than ever before, the State Government must deliver on its election promise to provide another $7.5 million to the GRIIF. It is a disgrace that State Labor is refusing to hand over this money.
I trust that Alcoa will provide a strong assistance package to their workers to ensure they have the best possible chance of finding new opportunities in the workforce.
12 May 2015