Our Power: The Latrobe Valley, Hazelwood, And Our Energy Future

The Latrobe Valley is home to three brown coal mines and four power stations which have provided Victoria with over 80 per cent of its power, every day, for over 90 years.

The documentary Our Power traces the footsteps of the Latrobe Valley’s history, starting from the coal community’s birth in the 1920s to the establishment of the State Electricity Commission Victoria (SECV), while focussing on the effects of the privatisation in the 1990s, which severely demoralised the community’s pride in electricity production. Since 2014, the Latrobe Valley community has been sparked into action and are taking control of their health, community and future.

Green Agenda spoke with film director Peter Yacono about Our Power, the Hazelwood Mine Fire, and opportunities for a just energy transition for Australia.

Our Power is screening as part of the Transitions Film Festival. The screening is on Saturday the 2nd of March 2019, 2:15pm at Cinema Nova (380 Lygon St, Carlton, Melbourne). Tickets available here.

Continue reading →

Green Anti-Immigration Arguments Are A Cover For Right Wing Populism

With the backdrop of dramatic decrease in migration to Australia in 2018 to a 10 year low, the population debate has reared its ugly head. In recent months Dick Smith has run an advertising blitz with the title ‘overpopulation will destroy Australia’ that compares population growth to cancer and recently took stage at Dark + Dangerous Thoughts at Mona arguing “no” for the proposition “Do We Let Them In?”. Dick Smith’s intervention comes as members of the far right continue to focus on immigration as a major issue. For example, the newly minted Katter’s Australian Party senator, Fraser Anning, praised the White Australia Policy in his inaugural speech and echoed Nazi rhetoric saying “the final solution to the immigration problem of course is a popular vote”. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also recently spoken about reducing Australia’s immigration intake. 

The two views, although, coming from different perspectives, one nominally in the name of “sustainability” and the other a throwback to colonialism steeped in racism and xenophobia, arrive at the same destination, a hermetical view of the world projecting fear onto an outsider. In Dick Smith’s view the outsider is coming to destroy the environment and it Anning’s version they threaten the “European-Christian” ethno-white state. 

The environmental rhetoric of the population debate might be alluring to progressives. Who would argue against clean air and clean water? Who wouldn’t agree that the current paradigm of growth is unsustainable? The problem is that an analysis based solely in population is superficial, creating solutions that end up marrying with the worst parts of Australian politics – far-right populism. If unchecked environmentalists focused solely on population threaten to be co-opted and driving a wedge in the environmental movement – because on the surface the arguments sound appealing.

Continue reading →

What Would A Fair Energy Transition Look Like?

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced last week that a federal Labor government would create a Just Transition Authority to overseee Australia’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This echoes community calls for a “fast and fair” energy transition to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

But disruptive change is already here for Australia’s energy sector. 2018 has been a record year for large-scale solar and wind developments and rooftop solar. Renewable energy is now cheaper than new-build coal power generation – and some are saying renewables are now or soon will be cheaper than existing coal-fired power.

Based purely on the technical lifetime of existing power stations, the Australian market operator predicts that 70% of coal-fired generation capacity will be retired in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria by 2040. If renewables continue to fall in price, it could be much sooner.

We must now urgently decide what a “just” and “fair” transition looks like. There are many Australians currently working in the energy sector – particularly in coal mining – who risk being left behind by the clean energy revolution.

Continue reading →

Why We Should Prioritise A Universal Basic Income

Why Progressives Should Prioritise UBI Over A Job Guarantee

In 2018 there seems to be no hotter topic amongst progressives: should we have a Universal Basic Income (UBI) or a Job Guarantee? The answer is quite simple: both, obviously.

There is nothing inherent in one that excludes the other and a world in which people unconditionally have their needs met alongside a clear path through which they can contribute to their community sounds ideal.

But then comes the trickier question: which should we prioritise? The order of implementation matters and as progressives gear up for our next major fight with limited resources and political capital, this article is going to outline a some important things to keep in mind. In this article I am going to clarify some terms in the debate, highlight some differences between the two policies and then respond to some criticisms of UBI from Edward Miller’s article[1].

Continue reading →

A Universal Job Guarantee: An End To The Neoliberal Employment Landscape?

At any given moment there are an extraordinary number of people looking to participate and contribute to our society in ways that the private job market ignores or excludes. In this article, Senior Campaigner for Economic Fairness at GetUp Edward Miller explores the merits of a Universal Job Guarantee for confronting the perils of the neoliberal employment landscape.

Continue reading →

The Environmental Impacts Of UBI And A Shorter Working Week

Continuing our series on UBI: In this essay, republished from the Green Institute’s ‘Can Less Work Be More Fair?’ discussion paper on Universal Basic Income and a shorter working week, Professor Greg Marston argues that a UBI and shorter working week could play an important role in creating the conditions for a sustainable and equitable ‘good life’.

Continue reading →

Basic Income Makes Basic Sense for Remote Indigenous Australia

In this essay, republished from the Green Institute’s ‘Can Less Work Be More Fair?’ discussion paper on Universal Basic Income and a shorter working week, Professor Jon Altman argues that a new Basic Income scheme has the potential to deliver remote living Indigenous people forms of alternative economy.

 

The employment situation in remote Indigenous Australia is a disaster. Even the optimistic spin peddled by the Turnbull government’s latest annual Closing the Gap report delivered in early 2016 (1) notes that only three in ten Indigenous adults in remote Australia are in work resulting in high welfare dependence, poverty and in some situations social dysfunction associated with inactivity. For many young people who experience even higher levels of unemployment, there is a deep sense of anomie and hopelessness about future prospects.

Continue reading →

The City And The Commons

Responding to Tim Hollo’s article Towards Ecological Democracy, Natalie Osborne explores the implications of these ideas for cities, arguing that urban commoning demands what will be, for many of us, a radical reimagining of land, boundaries, and notions of property and ownership that directly challenge capitalist modes of relations.

Continue reading →

The Commons: What, Why And How?

The commons is one of the key ideas that we can make use of in our efforts at developing a postcapitalist politics. 

In his keynote address at the Green Institute’s Conference, Everything is Connected, in October 2017, Dr Stephen Healy, discusses the what, why and how of commoning.

Continue reading →