darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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November 23, 2009

Victorians are being warned they face the prospect of blackouts and power shortages if the Rudd Labor Government implements its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation without taking measures to protect the future viability of Latrobe Valley generators.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has repeatedly highlighted his concerns over the future reliability of power supplies and media reports today have indicated that Victorian Premier John Brumby has also written to the Prime Minister on the issue. The Premier is reported to have ‘pleaded with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to provide billions of dollars in extra compensation to the state’s coal-fired power stations’ in order to keep them viable.

Mr Chester said the Rudd Labor Government had failed to address the concerns of Victorians in regards to the security of future power supply, preferring to push the ETS legislation through Parliament as part of a political point scoring strategy.

“The timing of the ETS debate is more about a political strategy than any environmental policy,” Mr Chester said.

“Australia contributes just 1.4% to total global emissions and it lacks common sense for Australia to be locked into legislation that will make our businesses less competitive than their trading partners and achieve insignificant environmental outcomes.

“Apart from the increased costs to households and businesses, the reliability of the electricity supply is a fundamental issue in this debate but the government and the union movement have tried to downplay the concerns of Latrobe Valley power generators.

“Undermining the value of the asset base of the power stations will make it more difficult for the owners to refinance their operations and contribute to less capital works, less maintenance and reduced reliability of supply. We can expect more unexpected shutdowns and power blackouts in the future thanks to Mr Rudd.”

Mr Chester voted against the legislation when it was presented to the House of Representatives and branded the Prime Minister’s handling of the issue as “an enormous con”.

“There is support, for action on climate change, but Australians are being conned into believing that this is the answer.  There is no Australian solution to climate change in isolation.  There needs to be a global commitment,” Mr Chester told Parliament.

“It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to pursue this legislation before we have a clear understanding of what action, if any, our major trading partners and the rest of the world are prepared to take.

“I fear that without a global agreement and the knowledge of what countries such as the United States, China and India are prepared to do, we are voting to give foreign companies a competitive advantage over our own companies. 

“We are voting for more expensive power and transport costs.  We are voting to increase costs for all our small businesses.  We are voting for a massive tax on every part of our lives.

“The Prime Minister claims that he is taking action to save the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu but he fails to explain how that is possible when Australia contributes just 1.4% of total global emissions.

“It is a cruel hoax and it is a betrayal of the good will that the overwhelming majority of Australians have for practical projects to look after the environment for future generations.”

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