Our visit was strategically timed to coincide with the delivery of the Crib Point Inquiry and Advisory Committee’s (IAC) report on AGL/APA’s ecocidal gas proposal—to operate a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (a giant gas tanker) to import and store liquified natural gas (LNG) from interstate or overseas—to Victoria’s Planning Minister, Richard Wynne MP.
Following an extensive Inquiry process late last year, numerous requests have been made for the IAC’s report to be made public. However, Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has advised that it will not be released until the Minister announces his ruling in a few weeks time. Given the exceptional community engagement (6,058 submissions opposing the project), we find the decision to deny public access to the IAC’s report undemocratic.
Another questionable development is that consultants for AGL/APA were apparently hosting a Federal Government delegation at the threatened site on the same day. Was approval for this visit with lobbyists granted by DELWP?
Expressed another way (and the community’s right to know aside), it seems that the Federal Government was interfering before the Victorian Planning Minister had even received a copy of IAC’s report. So, has due process been given?
Meanwhile, a few key facts to keep front of mind:
- AGL is Australia’s largest polluter by a long shot;
- AGL has an appalling record of breaching environment laws. At the end of last year AGL faced calls for criminal charges following another coal ash spill from its Bayswater power station. AGL was found to have breached that site’s environment licence 52 times in the last five years;
- AGL has a long history of seeking to control access to energy in order to maximise profits;
- AGL is an extremely wealthy and capable energy company with enormous capacities to work with local communities to rapidly transition Australia’s energy systems;
- by every measure, AGL’s proposed gas project in Westernport is ecocidal, egregious and gratuitous;
- the fossil fuel industry’s own scientists were warning of the deadly consequences of its products back in the 1970s;
- as Australia’s horrific 2019/2020 Inferno Summer demonstrated, we are already experiencing advanced climate and biodiversity collapse as a direct result of mining and burning fossil fuels (among other greenhouse gas intensive activities);
- AGL is well aware of the incredible innovations and steeply declining costs of zero emission energy alternatives, as well as for the cutting edge distribution and storage systems that support them;
- rolling out zero emission technologies now will deliver clean and secure energy while creating millions of safe and stable jobs in local economies (like Crib Point) that desperately need them;
- the area around Crib Point on Westernport is a Ramsar Wetland site of international importance.
So, why is AGL pushing ahead with another toxic, climate wrecking and deeply controversial project that is destined to become a stranded asset much sooner than later? And why risk such an ecocidal project in a vulnerable area with a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance listing?
Why are the Victorian and Federal Governments even allowing such a dangerous and antisocial project to be considered at all?
Whether it’s sitting in our Parliaments or in corporate boardrooms, surely we all deserve better from our so-called leaders.
With our heart-felt thanks to the Save Westernport community for its courageous and determined campaign to protect its critically threatened, internationally recognised ecosystems and the endangered species that depend on them.