Switch off Hazelwood coverage

The direct action Switch Off Hazelwood held on September 12th-13th was a huge success for the Climate Change Movement in Victoria. Over 500 people attended the non-violent direct action which resulted in 22 people being arrested and wide media coverage. The day as promised was one of empowering and creative civil disobedience demanding governments switch off coal and switch on renewables.

Read more. More photos: here and here. Links to corporate press newspaper coverage. Links to corporate tv coverage. Links to You Tube citizen journalism. Read Merryn Redenbach's speech.


Starting off on Saturday 12th, approximately 250 people camped a few kilometres from Hazelwood and shared meals, music and documentaries as final preparations were made. They were joined by several hundred more protesters on Sunday morning. After a welcome to country from the traditional owners of the land that the dirtiest coal fired power station in the industrialised world sits on , a colourful procession marched to the front gates of the power plant, Australia’s biggest single source of carbon emissions and one of the dirtiest coal plants in the world. The crowd was diverse including people of all ages. All were united in their demands that Hazelwood should be closed and replaced with renewable energy sources as a matter of urgency and were ready to present their “Community Decommission” notices. There were a number of colourfully dressed affinity groups such as the Carbon Cops, Wombat Warriors, Radical Cheerleaders, Ministers for Energy Resources and Silly Walks, and the Climate Clowns. Unfortunately police would not let the fabulous “bikezilla”, a massive 8 person bike join the protest due to safety reasons! The crowd heard from Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation, author David Spratt, Melbourne based paediatrician Merryn Redenbach who all delivered the same message: our planet is facing a very real climate emergency and we must act now to avoid it. A great start would be to switch off coal and switch on renewables.

After the speeches finished at the gates finished at around 1 PM, the promised civil disobedience quickly began with two protesting wombats getting over the fence. This set the tone for the rest of afternoon as people in small groups or individually seized their chance to avoid the police line along the fence to enter the grounds of Hazelwood. Some of the more nimble protestors nearly reached the permanent fence of plant but most were quickly detained by police. Apart for a few rough tackles, the arrests occurred without much force and protestors were only detained briefly.

The other main form of direct action on the day was other groups of demonstrators repeatedly trying to push over the temporary fencing in sections. This resulted in most physical confrontations with police of the action as horses were used to keep people back. Although the civil disobedience never really reached a “mass level”, it occurred in small groups consistently and with determination and resulted in 22 arrests. Arrestees were charged with Trespass and were told they will be charged on summons to appear in the Morewell Courts at a later date. They were processed on site. One protestor was charged with assaulting police after allegedly colliding with a police officer after jumping the fence. Organisers have pledged legal support and solidarity fundraising will occur for all those arrested.

The day concluded with protestors forming a human sign in the shape of a wind turbine to symbolise their hope and determination to see dinosaurs like Hazelwood shut down and replaced with renewable energy that will provide both clean jobs and power. The vibe was definitely up and empowered by the days end with people well aware that many more such actions will be needed to achieve sane Climate Change policies in Australia.
The policing of the event whilst massive was not overly aggressive. The operation was reported to have cost in excess of $200,000 with 250 officers present including horses, dogs, the helicopter and boats on the pondage. The visible presence was about 100 officers along the fence line. Police had constructed a temporary fence about 100 metres beyond the real perimeter of the plant. This allowed demonstrators to breach the first police line and be arrested without actually getting too close to the plant, something the police obviously intended. . A roadblock for vehicles was strictly enforced, although the Indymedia van was eventually allowed in. Extensive police liason had occurred prior to the event. As mentioned the most forceful policing occurred with the use of horses to defend the fence. Police did appear to lose patience by about 3 PM as the protestors held a final spokes council to decide on how to end the day. The meeting was buzzed low by the police helicopter and police liason were told that any mass charge on the fence to finish the day would be met with the use of capsicum foam. That was their subtle way of saying, it was time to go home.

The media coverage of the day was extensive and largely sympathetic. It appeared on all corporate television stations. The day was also covered well by independent media, both freelance but also Melbourne Indymedia and SKA TV. Several videos of the day have appeared on You Tube and photos of the action can also be found on http://www.flickr.com/photos/hazelwood09/ and also the official organising site of www.switchoffhazelwood.org

Timeline from the day

9:00 Last night approximately 300 people ate, camped and planned together for the day of action. Most people were formed into affinity groups and took part in the spokes council meeting. Spirits were high with live music, films by indymedia, and great food from Food Not Bombs.

9:30 Media van got stoped, one of two negotiated cars got through. 11:00

11:00 Media set up with helicopters buzzing over our heads. Speeches at start of demonstration: Robbie Thorpe, Sven Teske and Scott Ludlam. "Bikezilla" the giant bike join the parade and many officers have their badges obscured. Otherwise liaison is working well.

12:19 The protest march has reached the front gates where there is a heavy police presence and lots of new temporary fencing to keep protesters at bay. Speeches in front of gates: David Spratt, Merryn Rebenbach, Dave Sweeney congratulates locals: “People from the valley can’t voice their options and still be anonymous” “The place will become an industrial sacrifice zone as well as an ecological one”

12:31 Demonstrators waving to the helicopters and holding balloons.

12:45 David Spratt speech “Minister Should Resign”

12:55 Two Belgrave Wombats jumped the fence, two pushed away- two arrested 1:03 Cheerleader and Climate Actions Dance Group start. Rain stopped.

1:00 “Silly walks ministry” moves towards fence.

1:12 Police horses ride up to hill-fence to confront protestors.

1:13 Water and police on horses in place

1:15 Kids are playing with the “world”. Second wombat brought out of the gate.

1:20 Radical Cheerleaders in action chanting.

1:21 more police in front of the fence. Cheering activists move forward towards police and fence.

1:26 Around six more jumped the fence

1:34 Garbage bin sound-system starts. Another protester jumps the fence

1:35 The first two arrested wombats got charged and released.

1:36 Activists positioned on grass hill trying to push down fence.

1:40 Cheerleaders create diversion on fence line.

1:48 Chant and march down fence. Trying to shake fence down. Horses almost trample protesters.

1:50 Protester jumps over fence. Groups of protesters shake and try to jump fence

2:01 loud chanting. Batons up. Activists on hillside walk in an unbroken line towards the fence. Line is stopped by police horses.

2:02 Three activists get over the fence. Two get roughly pushed away and do not get over the fence.

2:03 Another activist dressed as a carbon cop jumps the fence and gets arrested.

2:05 Arrest Update: 13 so far

2:11 Crowd turns its back to Hazelwood in disgust.

2:30 Three more get over the fence, one tackled by police.

2:55 Arrests: 22, everyone ID processed on site. No one has been taken to Morwell police Station as yet. Most activists have been released on summons.

3:10 Activist forming a gigantic windmill, cheering and even though it's raining a motivated outcome of the days efforts.

3:30 People heading home after a great day of civil disobedience against the one of the worst carbon polluting coal plants in Victoria and the world.



The protesters who expect to be arrested this weekend in the campaign to close down Hazelwood power station may break the law, but they have justice on their side. With scientists predicting runaway climate change unless we take drastic action in the next five years, and the manifest failure of our democratic system to respond adequately to the overwhelming threat posed to our future, it is legitimate to step outside the usual boundaries of protest. (Follow the link below to read the rest of this interesting article justifying civil disobedience to fight climate change)

THERE'S an irony in the rushed construction of a new security fence around the Hazelwood power station, in anticipation of a community protest this weekend. The Government, it seems, is more in interested in protecting Hazelwood from protesters, than protecting our climate from Hazelwood. (Follow link below to read the rest of this article explaining how the Government's whole climate strategy is predicated on developing unproven clean coal technology)

"Hazelwood protest has support of key greens" The Age
Article from the day before the demo explaining the ACF and Environment Victoria's support for demonstrators breaking the law at the Hazelwood protest.

"Police arrest Vic power plant protesters" The Age
Article from the Age giving some basic coverage of the day.

Police Tactics Under Fire At Hazelwood - The Age
Another story in the Age on the demo which gives a fairly accurate description of events and also discusses the use of police horses to maintain control of the fence line at the protest

"Green Jobs Dopey, CFMEU Leader, Tony Maher" - The Australian 14/9/09
The President of the CFMEU has labelled the Hazelwood demonstration as "silly" and naive for opposing an industry that contributes so heavily to our economy. In a revealing quote demonstrating the mindset of so many in power he also stated that "By mid-century we'll be using twice as much coal and a lot more steel and plastic and concrete that aren't the flavour of the month with environmentalists and green groups," he said.

if u guys dont like dirty coal, then maybe we need to start from home how about i take your pasma tv, ur fride frezzer, washing machine and every appliance in ur house and burn it. almost ill tke ur bmw and burn it if u hate coal so much y do u hve all this stuff

rember gipsland stands because of coal because u like to holiday overseas u dont keep ur money in the country towns like this

wht wouls be better nuclear power YEAH that sound great and when it blows up if it every does bye bye melbourne hello children with 3 arms and no heart

why dont you guys start from home

also climate change yes it scary but look through the history of the earth wht happen ohhh fuck n ice age and heat its the way it goes round

Before I adress the comments above I'd like to draw everyone's attention to the fact that many police personnel were issued with hand-held video cameras and were filming the ralliers. I hope this is investigated and explored and discussed, hopefully also in the comemrcial media.

Most of the people who rallied this weekend cannot afford or choose not to own plasma TVs or BMWs. The great majority of them would also holiday in Australia. I'd argue that ALL of them are against the use of nuclear power.

Global Climate is a finely balanced thing that we have very little control over. Anthropogenic climate change is merely one of thousands of individual and interrelated issues that affect almost all forms of life on Earth today. The key is Sustainability. Generating electricity from fossil fuels such as brown coal is UNsustainable, that means we can't sustain it, at some point we will no longer be able to live the way we live right now.

Many argue that this point has already passed and things are changing right now, society is itself beginning to transition to a state of sustainability, but there are big barriers that are slowing this natural progression down. The people protesting this weekend are helping move these barriers. In the future they will be remembered as some of the greatest pioneers in human history. Pioneers of the human sustainability transition. There is little more admirable actions than civil disobedience. The police do not understand what they are doing and they do not understand that they are a major barrier to the progression of humanity.

There are many people who would be more than happy to have a chat to you about this stuff if you ask them, get the discussion going.

Its astonishing to think that this dinosaur, which was no doubt state-of-the-art back in the 1960's, continues to produce a quarter of the electricity for Victoria's 21st century economy. In fact, its generation technology is so outdated and its fuel so dirty that Hazelwood takes the cake as the world's highest polluting power station. Despite being slated for closure in 2005, its licence was extended by the Victorian government until 2031, which would make it almost 70 years old by the time it closes.

Great work you guys! Inspiring

Was great to see the Melbourne Indymedia van out at HAZE-lwood - great job thanks to all involved.
I half heard on community radio 3CR show Beyond Zero Emmissions this afternoon (Monday) that there is to be a protest this Friday about the Corporate media announcement that the big solar plant neat Mildura is not going ahead and 100 workers have lost their jobs.
Anyone with details of this and other events please let those of us interested know via the calendar here on indymedia.

no jobs on a dead planet !
switch off coal switch on renewables !

check out also upcoming 350.org for events.

ABC News Sunday 13th September
Link to the ABC news story on Sunday evening. An excellent piece of coverage for the movement. It also links the demo to the insane proposal to export brown coal from Victoria to India.

Sky News Coverage 13th September via Youtube

Chanel Ten News Coverage 13th September via Youtube

Channel Seven Coverage 12th September via Youtube

Civil disobedience at Hazelwood - solar awakening to switch off the dark ages - thejuicemedia
Ten minute edited clip of civil disobedience interspersed with interviews with Robbie Thorpe from the Gurnai people and others. Set to the music of Rage Against the Machine

Switch Off Hazelwood: Starring the Wombat Warriors: Sean Bedlam
Short You-Tube clip with some footage of some protesters going over the fence and a couple of interviews with some Wombat Warriors

Switch Off Hazelwood: Cowboys and Horses - Sean Bedlam
Another quick Youtube clip with some protestors almost pushing down some temporary fences and the police using the horses to push them back

Hazelwood Protest- Crashingsun2008
Audio and Still photos from the day.

Switch off Hazelwood- Coal Fired Power Station Action - Youbegreen
Short interview with Lou Morris a protest organiser about Hazelwood and civil disobedience interspersed with footage from the rally.

My First Project
Ten minutes of fairly raw footage of the rally and action. Towards the end includes 2 minute of Izzy from the Wombat Combats rapping accompanied by the wheelie bin sound system and break dancing climate clowns. Nice.

"Hazelwood Protest included ordinary people not just guys in wombat suits" - Crikey.com
: This is an interesting article form Crikey.com which discusses how "mainstream" the environment movement has become as evidenced by the "ordinary" people at the demo on the weekend.

Perth Indymedia Newswire

500 Protestors, 22 Arrests at Australia's dirtiest coal station

"Hazelwood Expecting More Climate Change Protests" - ABC
- This story says that the CEO of Hazelwood is expecting more protests - you better believe it buddy!

This is a wonderful protest to close down Hazelwood.
Closing the plant will take around 1600MW of power out of the Victorian power grid, and plunge Victoria into darkness, and not just figuratively, but literally.
Let's do the math to replace this amount of power with Renewable power, say, sourced from wind turbines.
Keep in mind that wind can only supply the power for 30% of the time, and that's a 'best case scenario', as most plants already in operation can only manage around 20%.
So that means we now need around 1600MW at 30% delivery rate or 5400MW actual.
With 3 MW nacelles on top of those huge towers, we are looking at 1800 of those towers.
Existing plants, say Cape Wind, have 140 towers, and that plant costs $US1.1 Billion or $1.3 Billion AUD.
So now the cost to build all that comes in at $17 Billion.
Let's pretend that everyone comes on side and all the things fall into place really quickly.
Something this scope will take around 15 to 20 years to actually construct, provided of course you scale up production of the nacelles and towers etc. The carbon footprint for a construction of this scale will be, well, let's not go there shall we.
At then end of all this you have power still only being delivered for 30% of the time, or around 7 hours a day.
Also keep in mind that Solar Power will be even more expensive to construct, and will deliver power at a lesser rate than wind.
In the interim, all Victoria drums its collective fingers on the table waiting to get power back that will not be delivered as it once was.
Idealistic ideas like this are just wonderful.
The reality however is something else again.
Sorry. Fail.

There is planned to be a protest about the closure of Australia's
largest planned solar plant near Mildura with loss of 100 jobs this
Friday lunchtime.
Solar Systems was placed under voluntary administration on 7 September
2009 placing the Midlura heliostat project and the jobs of two-thirds
of the workforce at risk.
Solar Systems Pty Ltd 45 Grosvenor Street Abbotsford VIC 3067
Telephone: +61 3 9413 8000 Email general enquiries:

Hong Kong-based China Light & Power wrote down its 20 per cent equity
stake in the company. CLP also owns TRUenergy

Solar Systems has effectively moved part of its head office to Dallas
following the appointment of the Dallas-based Mike Childers as CEO. It
is possibly destined, like the solar thermal developer Ausra, to move
its headquarters to the US in pursuit of opportunities in a market that
is growing rapidly because of strong federal and state subsidies.

Back in the UK:


Two activists did a banner drop and were eventually allowed off the Bladerunner barge after the police established after an hour quite what crime they might have committed. They were escorted off and banned for life from Port Authority premises. Paddy Weir and his security chief (who had been crank calling one of the activists the last couple of nights) rocked up to our amusement: the £70k bonus he was expecting for throwing workers on the scrap heap may be some way off.

The four activists on the cranes stopping the blades being loaded on to the BBC Ohio were treated appallingly, threatened with terrorism charges, then subjected to the trauma of the cranes being moved and lowered defying all health and safety precedent known to trade unionists on the docks.

They have been arrested and will probably be charged with aggravated trespass.

The day has been an overwhelming success from our point of view, complementing the ongoing mobilisations inspired by 6 Vestas workers at the TUC . However the reckless and provocative behaviour of Vestas management has reached a new low, after the sacking of workers via a pizza delivery, the refusal to negotiate to date, the steaqling of activists’ tents, and the general threats and intimidation.

Two days before the national day of action (!) today’s events should impress upon this cowboy outfit that we will keep on fighting and we will win.


Vestas Blades UK made production workers at their factories on the Isle of Wight redundant on 12 August. 600 jobs have been or will soon be lost. Many more jobs that depend on Vestas will follow. RMT members at the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight occupied their factory for more than two weeks in protest at management plans to close the plant. The protest ended peacefully on August 7 after bailiffs entered the premises with an eviction order awarded to the company. But the struggle continues to save the only wind turbine factory in the UK.
The government has just announced a major expansion of renewable energy including wind power. We are calling on Vestas to keep the factories open, saving jobs and offering those who want to leave a better redundancy deal.
more: http://www.rmt.org.uk/

UK wide day of action, Thursday 17 September. Look for placards that read “Save Vestas Jobs” and email pix to savevestas@gmail.com
Keep in touch with the Vestas workers' campaign: phone the Vestas workers at the picket line on 07756 659234
or email them at savevestascampaign@yahoo.co.uk

A new video from the Hazelwood action, just uploaded

In the opening sequence you can see the officer striking one of the protesters in the face and being trampled by a horse. If the footage can be used in the upcoming court case/s contact us through TheJuiceMedia: www.youtube.com/thejuicemedia

Enjoy the video~ here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AunlJIEDvPw&feature=channel_page

PS: Indiymedia, can you please add this video to your media coverage page on this action~

Get over it people, International Power are here to stay and nothing you do will change it. Hazelwood produces 25% of Victorias power you can’t just “switch it off” unless you want major interruptions and implications throughout Victoria.

Yesterday's celebration of Earth Hour was a huge success!! Its good to know that more and more people are concern on Earth...

Tony's comment above at Wed 4:27pm is correct. Hazelwood will not be switched off for as long as the alternative on offer is wind or solar power. The only emission free generation technology that can replace Hazelwood in the grid is nuclear power. To switch off Hazelwood, it will be necessary to make available the nuclear alternative. Supporting wind and solar as replacement generators will ensure Hazelwood will continue to operate. Its unfortunate that it is this way, but that is the reality of this situation.

Actually geothermal has enormous mid-term potential, especially in the La Trobe Valley where brown coal acts as an insulation blanket on the strata beneath, keeping the temperatures high enough for power generation.

There is an enormous lead time and investment in infrastructure for nuclear power. Geothermal power stations could be running long before a nuclear plant could come on line. Geothermal is also 24/7 baseload potential with about 30 minute response to energy demand.

Renewables, less carbon intensive fossil fuel power sources combined with energy efficiency reduction has the potential to make up the difference with closing Hazelwood.

The Australia Institute explained in 2005 that there were alternatives to Hazelwood, just by switching to less carbon intensive fossil fuel processes at a slightly increased cost, including by Integrated drying and gasifying combined cycle
(IDGCC) or use of natural gas turbines.

Environment Victoria propose two scenarios for replacement of Hazelwood:

Scenario 1 – Supply side only option: this scenario involves bringing forward
1180 MW of combined cycle gas turbine plant running at 65 per cent capacity
factor and 1500 MW of renewable generation (predominantly wind) at 30 per
cent capacity factor; and
Scenario 2 – Supply side and demand side option: this scenario involves
bringing forward 970 MW of combined cycle gas-fired generation running at
50% capacity factor initially, then declining over time, as well as 1500 MW of
renewables. It also incorporates additional residential, commercial and industrial
energy efficiency options that replace around 25 per cent of Hazelwood’s annual
generation as well as 100 MW of Demand Side Management.