The Andrews Labor Government has refused to listen to community calls to intervene in the heritage listing of the old Morwell Power Station and Briquette Factory, potentially blocking badly needed new local jobs.
In State Parliament, Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath asked the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne to get involved, but he has refused.
Energy Brix closed the plant in 2014 and a new operator, Coal Energy Australia is prepared to invest and create at least 50 new ongoing jobs, but only if the asbestos-riddled plant is demolished.
“I’ve personally toured the site and I can tell you that the former Morwell Power Station site is riddled with asbestos and falling apart,” Ms Bath said.
“Latrobe City Council and the vast bulk of the community want to see this eyesore knocked down and new opportunities created in its place.
“Under the Act, Minister Wynne has the power to support a demolition application lodged with Heritage Victoria by Energy Brix and he is sitting on his hands not listening to the Council or community wishes.”
The Nationals’ candidate for the Morwell electorate, Sheridan Bond, said Labor doesn’t understand the need for new jobs in the Valley.
“This is a no-brainer. There is only a small number of people that see any value in keeping this power station, whereas knocking it down can help us deliver new jobs for the Valley. We already had high unemployment even before the closure of Hazelwood – we don’t need any more roadblocks for new jobs,” Ms Bond said.
Asbestos Council of Victoria/GARDS CEO Vicki Hamilton said the station was an eyesore and a danger to the community and needs to be taken down.
“It’s a danger to everybody and it’s been proven that those places, time and time again, are a danger. They have heritage-listed other power stations and they are still sitting there rotting after a couple of decades because everybody knows the places are contaminated. It’s just a disgrace.
“You are managing a disaster forever. It needs to come down so there is no more risk. That is the bottom line here.”
Ms Bath said Labor needed to step in.
“The heritage overlay decision is not representative of the wider Latrobe Valley community’s views and most importantly it places the health, the future development of the site and the opportunity for new employment at serious risk.”