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Community group urge Environment Minister, department for transparency over secret Yallourn closure deal

December 20, 2021

A Latrobe Valley community group are calling for transparency from the Victorian Environment Minister to release the details of a secret deal struck with Energy Australia to keep its Yallourn power station operating until 2028.  

Energy Australia announced in March that the power station would retire four years earlier than planned after having struck a deal with the Victorian government.   

Criticism of the Andrews government has been growing in recent months over its refusal to disclose the details of that agreement. Minister Lily D’Ambrosio refused to provide any detail of the agreement when asked in Parliament citing the deal as “commercial-in-confidence”.  

It followed media reports in March which raised concerns that the deal involved a secret plan to subsidise the power station until 2028, even if electricity prices become so low that they make the power station commercially unviable. 

Community group, Friends of Latrobe Water has instructed lawyers at Environmental Justice Australia to lodge Freedom of Information requests to Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning requesting the details of the agreement.  

The FOI requests seek further details of the Victorian government’s agreement with Energy Australia to repair damage to the Morwell River Diversion near the Yallourn coal mine. The agreement allows the equivalent of up to 1,400 olympic-sized pools to be diverted to the Latrobe River a day, and any excess water to be diverted into the Hazelwood mine void.  

The Latrobe Valley community have been kept in the dark about how public funds have been used in this agreement, which the Environment Minister has also refused to shed light on citing it as commercial in nature. 

FLoW spokeswoman Hayley Sestokas said: 

“Our government cannot hide information which affects our community behind a shield of ‘commercial-in-confidence’”  

“We are asking Ms D’Ambrosio for transparency about important government agreements which will have an enormous bearing on the Latrobe Valley community in the years ahead.   

“Ms D’Ambrosio has claimed that this deal is one other governments can learn from and yet we still know very little about what it involves.”   

Environmental Justice Australia lawyer, Chloe Badcock said:  

“We are representing Friends of Latrobe Water to seek the details of the government’s secret deals for the Latrobe Valley community, who are greatly affected by the government’s decisions regarding power station regulation and closure.  

There should be greater transparency for the public who are affected by these decisions every day.”   

Read the FOI request to the Minister here and to DELWP here 

Media contact: Kathryn Lewis, 0411 670 886, [email protected]  

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