Gippsland South The Nationals Water Resources Hazelwood Irrigation Danny O'Brien mines state government

Gippsland deserves answers on mines and water

The State Government has been called on to provide more information to the community about options for Latrobe Valley mine rehabilitation as concern rises about the plan to create pit lakes.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said he had raised a question in State Parliament about alternatives to filling the mines with water last year but the Government was yet to answer.

Mr O’Brien said there was growing concern in the community that only one option was being looked at and there appeared to be little thought being given to opportunity costs of filling the Morwell mine with water.

“I fully appreciate that mine rehabilitation and stability is a difficult issue, but I don’t believe the Andrews Labor Government is being fully open with the community.

“While there are few options to rehabilitating the mine safely there is only one currently being considered by Hazelwood owner Engie, and that is filling it with water.

“I asked the Minister for Resources last year for an estimate of the cost of ongoing pumping of ground water to maintain mine stability and I am yet to receive a response.”

Under parliamentary rules the Minister is obliged to provide a response to questions on notice within 30 days but the response to this question is now 85 days overdue.

“I believe there are great opportunities in the Latrobe system for the expansion of irrigation as we have allocated but un-used water in Blue Rock Dam that could help create jobs and investment in our region. However this is potentially under threat by the plan to flood the mines and the Government is not giving enough information to the wider Gippsland community.

“There are users downstream including farmers, the environment, the Gippsland Lakes and lower Latrobe Wetlands who are all stakeholders in this, and their views have not been fully considered.”

Mr O’Brien said he was pleased to attend a meeting at the Glengarry Hotel last night where a new Latrobe River Irrigators Group was established to provide a voice to irrigators in the region.

“I believe we can shore up existing irrigators entitlements and potentially expand irrigation in the region but we need a sound, rational debate over mine rehabilitation and so far the conversation on that is all one-way.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien still waiting for answers from the Government on mine rehabilitation and water issues.

21 February 2020

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