Climate protestors descending on Hazelwood power station

Approximately 300 climate activists have converged on Hazelwood Power Station in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria to demand its immediate shut down. The protest is one of the over 7000 thousand protests planned on the 10/10/10 to mark the annual protests. The protestors are planning to build a model of a solar power plant to symbolise how Hazelwood could be replaced to create a carbon neutral future.

For the latest photos see the Switch Off Hazelwood flickr Photostream | Takver's Replace Hazelwood Photostream | Climate Action Moreland | AYCC photostream | Youtube video: Shaun Murray on Replacing Hazelwood | Erecting the solar power tower | 'Switch off Hazelwood' Protest Rally - 10/10/10

To read updates from the day click here.

Hazelwood was the site of civil disobedience twelve months ago that resulted in twenty arrests. In response to this direct action the ALP increased penalties dramatically for protesting at power stations. In the lead up to the Victorian state election the Brumby Government has announced that it intends a partial shut down of Hazelwood, but this would depend on finding hundreds of millions of dollars of compensation for International Power, the private multi-national that owns Hazelwood. International Power has been making record profits from the plant and was recently bought by French Power company GDF Suez. The Switch Off Hazelwood organisers are calling for:

  • The urgent decommissioning of Hazelwood Power Station.
  • Replacing its capacity with renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
  • A just transition for coal workers through the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency manufacturing facilities in the Latrobe Valley.

Full coverage of the day from the Indymedia Media Centre at the protest.

  • Heavy security has greeted the beginning of the demonstration with a road block enforced a few kilometres from the `power station. Demonstrators are currently massing to rally to the main gates of Hazelwood. Police on boat, helicopter, motorbike and horse are all patrolling the site including members of the search and rescue division. Around 30 police are gathered at the main gate with many more visible scattered around the perimeter. Numerous Toyota vans with tinted windows are also present. A new 9 foot barb wire topped security fence has been erected restricting access to the car park and much of the area demonstrators accessed last year.
  • Shaun Murray (Friends of the Earth) addressed the crowd before the march began, arguing convincingly why Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest coal power plant, should be shut down.
  • Activists have marched to the gates of Hazelwood lined by a heavy police presence. Protesters chanted and carried banners denouncing the Gillard and Brumby government’s policies which continue to advocate coal as Australia’s primary power source.
  • Melbourne singer/songwriter Penelope Swales took to the stage to entertain the crowd, who remain in high spirits.
  • Preparations to create the human solar array have begun, a renewable juxtaposition to Hazelwood, the aging coal dinosaur.
  • The tower of the human solar array has been erected to the applause of the activists. It is an impressive 10 metre high tower that is surrounded by almost 100 solar reflecting mirrors held by the protesters, who chant “Coal we don’t dig it, leave it in the ground it’s time to get with it!”
  • Protesters have lined the security fence with banners espousing the positive economic benefits of renewable energy. One slogan reads “Renewable energy employs 2 million people worldwide.” Earlier Cam Walker, from Friends of the Earth, spoke of redirecting the compensation that International Power sought from the government for the closure of Hazelwood should be redirected to local economy of the La Trobe valley to allow it to restructure in a post-coal economy.
  • Comedian Rob Quantock entertains Victoria’s latest renewable energy “employees” as the hold their solar panels. He makes comment about the “massive employment opportunities” that renewable energy presents.
  • The Lurkers are about to take to the stage. The activist musicians have travelled down from NSW to regale us with their subversive bluegrass sound.
  • Food supplied by Darebin Climate Action Now and Supreme Master are feeding the hungry crowd with their delicious vegetarian food.
  • There is a festival atmosphere – some dance to The Lurkers’ infectious sounds whilst others soak up the welcome sunshine – much appreciated after last year’s rain!
  • Oli MC just impressed the crowd with his rhythmic rhymes, telling us whilst what we do is the problem what we can do can be part of the solution.
  • Erland Howard from Greenpeace informs the protestors about the role that banks play in the coal and power production industry, pointing to the Commonwealth Bank’s 9% stake in International Power, the company which operates Hazelwood.
  • Cam Walker from Friends of the Earth talks of the positive impact of last year’s action in getting the phase out of Hazelwood back on the agenda. He looks to the future calling for the total closure of Hazelwood within the next term of state government and replacing Hazelwood with a mixture of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. In November a rally is planned to coincide with the state election and to warn the parties that they will be judged at the polls on their climate change policies.
  • Alina Canavira Sullcani, the Bolivian representative to the 2010 Cancun Conference addressed the crowd noting that there is no power plant on the scale of Hazelwood in operation in Bolivia. She pointed to the global impact of climate change and gave messages of solidarity and well wishes to future demonstrations, believing that the movement will grow from the hundreds here today to millions in the years to come.
  • The crowd and organisers thank all involved in the successful action as many start the long journey back from whence they came. The Lurkers retake the stage to finish off what has been a day of constructive and positive protest.


300!!! Lucky to crack 100. Poor turn out.

We handed out over 170 mirrors for the solar thermal display so you got some mighty poor counting going down :)

Yesterday's demonstration was successful in the terms that hundreds of people expressed their dissent at the site of Hazelwood Power Station. The small group of organisers made a herculean effort to get the day up and put on a well organised series of stunts and speeches and the day ran very well from an organisational point of view and they should be rightfully proud and congratulated.

However, from a broader political level was the day what the climate movement in Victoria needed? Why were we unable to replicate the success of holding a major civil disobedience action at Hazelwood as we did in 2009? Last year 22 people felt empowered to jump the fence to directly challenge the social license of the private operators, International Power to continue to pollute. They symbolically delivered the "Community Decommision notices" to Hazelwood. This year was a stark contrast with activists barely turning to face the fence let alone pull it down, jump over it or go under it.

Was it the introduction of the harsher penalties for protesting at power plants that deterred people? If so then I am not sure it is warranted as although the penalties have increased we need to remember these are maximum penalties are Magistrates can still choose to give light sentences. No-body was fined more then $200 for last years actions as the courts recognised the actions for what they were - peaceful, committed expressions of dissent. Even if we do face harsher penalties in the courts - should that stop us given the gravity of the climate crisis?

Was it the fact it was an election year and the various environment NGO's did not want to see a "controversial action" in the build up to the election? Most of the NGO's whose endorsement ended up on the poster did very little to help the core group of organisers to build this event and certainly gave no encouragement for the action to include civil disobedience. Friends of the Earth seemed to give the most support but where was visible contribution from Environment Victoria, the ACF or Greenpeace other than endorsements on posters? In contrast the day seemed to be made up of the smaller grassroots community groups.

I am not sure why this years action could not build on last years spirit of spontaneous, empowering civil disobedience that made people really want to get busted to make the point that Hazelwood needs to be shut down. I am certainly not blaming the organisers who succeeded in getting the action up yesterday. I know they did everything they could to build for this action and I also feel if they had been given more support from the movement they would have been more than happy for civil disobedience to occur. The fact they handed out a "civil disobedience pledge" on the day reflected this. However as someone who attended and enjoyed the day I couldn't help but reflect that as a movement why couldn't we build on last year momentum and build an annual tradition of civil disobedience at Hazelwood until this dinosaur is totally put to rest. If not at Hazelwood - where will the climate movement in Victoria make its stand?

It was great to see a big mob down at hazelwood on the weekend. i think some of the points brought up here are interesting. particularly the will of the more 'respectable' environmental NGO's. this years action was not really promoted as a civil disobedience action though, and perhaps thats why there was a lot more people last year-because action is more exciting than a 'community event.'

the reasons for a smaller turn out and a more placid crowd could be many. it may be partly because of concerns that focussing on confrontations was not helpful in building a relationship with the working classes who will be most directly affected by any closure or transition of power plants (well, the whole fucking planet will be affected too, i guess) obviously reconciling those differences is a really difficult job and something the environmental movement has struggled with in the past. while i dont necessarily agree with this, i think its a valid point and worth thinking about. the other main reason would be those who want a civilised picture of themselves painted in the media. which, honestly, is boring as fuck. certainly there is a place for 'respectable' NGO's to go about tuning the middle classes, this i respect as an important aspect in the whole diversity of the movement. but that is NOT more important than other strategies and there is no excuse for forcing that will on other people who would prefer to engage in a different manner.

and i guess there werent any groups there this time around who had anything confrontational planned. this could have been you or i, but it wasnt. (and although last years action was promoted as a 'civil disobedience' action, some people were still unhappy with the 'violent' protesters rattling the fence) perhaps this means we were all intimidated by the new laws (or the will of the 'respectable' NGOs) but hopefully we will discover it means simply that people were happy for this to be a really awesome and inclusive family/community type event, and they have other, more sinister plans developing in a more de-centralised context.

thanks heaps to all the organisers!
wicked job!

ok why aren't our fotos up there first on the website? our solar tower whipped those lame kiwis dancing with their solar panels. had to search through a whole mountain of minor events just to find two single fotos of our event!!!!!!

"where was visible contribution from Environment Victoria, the ACF"?

Maybe these groups aren't intersested in supporting grassroots action where there aren't sufficent branding opportunities. They are quite happy to get local climate campaigners to do their footwork (eg letterbox on Walk Against Warming, to get addresses for EV) but not actually show up when there is something put on by the grassroots movement.

Channel Ten news
Hundreds of protesters have demonstrated outside Australia’s dirtiest power station, they’ve called on the Govt to take early and drastic action on climate change.

It was also covered by SBS, Win TV, Ch 7 Ch 9 and ABC TV news.

March for renewables
PLANNED protest action at Hazelwood Power Station yesterday was peaceful, with no arrests made and a strong police presence.

See also front page image

Tight security at Hazelwood protest
Around 150 people have protested outside Hazelwood Power Station to demand it's immediate shutdown.

As many police as protesters at Hazelwood

The architecture looks like climbing there with a banner to put up could be great fun, and it seems as if security forces on the ground would be overcharged with the distinction between a protective action and a technical threat, probably not only at the bottom of the command chain.

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