Coalition's Finkel fail: Energy review fails on science and ignores health impacts on community

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National environment group Friends of the Earth say the Federal Coalition government's Finkel Review on energy has ignored the latest science on climate change and health impacts from coal pollution.

Friends of the Earth's climate change spokesperson Leigh Ewbank is "shocked" by the report's omissions given the scientific pedigree of the author, Dr Alan Finkel:    

"It's puzzling that Dr Alan Finkel, Australia's chief scientist and founder of Cosmos magazine, has failed to account for the latest science on climate change and health impacts from coal," said Leigh Ewbank. 

"Alarming melting of the polar icecaps and extensive bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef shows we need a rapid rollout of solar and wind, not incentives for new coal or gas. Renewable energy is the cost effective solution for the modern economy."

"It appears that Dr Finkel is not aware of the health impacts facing coal communities. Black lung has resurfaced in Queensland and premature deaths have been linked to the Hazelwood coal mine fire." 

"Community health should be put before the wishes of a fossil fuel lobbyists and a government ideologically wedded to coal and gas."

Wendy Farmer, longtime resident of the Latrobe Valley and President of Voices of the Valley, had the following response to the Finkel Review: 

"Communities are the most affected by energy policy yet the Finkel Review has not consulted with us," said Wendy Farmer.

"The health and wellbeing of communities and the need for a just transition has not been considered by the review."

"Without proper community engagement coal communities will once again be the ones that suffer the most."

Friends of the Earth say the Federal Coalition government's Finkel Review appears to be a Trojan Horse to undermine state and territory leadership on energy policy. 


The governments of ACT, Victoria, and Queensland have set renewable energy targets and have programs to rollout energy storage--securing reliability while creating jobs. Victoria has also protected farmland and aquifers with a permanent ban on risky onshore gasfields. 

"The Andrews government's Victorian Renewable Energy Target will create 11,000 jobs, cut carbon by 12 percent, and put downward pressure on power prices," said Pat Simons, renewables spokesperson. 

"Why won't the Turnbull government get on board with this leadership approach?"

Friends of the Earth campaign coordinator Cam Walker warns the Federal government about removing state protections on onshore gasfields development. In Victoria, a six year community campaign led to the first permanent ban on fracking in Australia. It enjoys broad and deep community support. 

"There's little doubt that the Finkel report will be used by Coalition MPs to argue that state bans and moratoriums on gas drilling should be lifted," said Walker.  

"Any MP who wants to pick a fight with regional Victoria on the gas ban is destined to lose, and alienate a core conservative support base while doing so. It would be an own goal of staggering proportions."

Friends of the Earth say the Finkel Review lacks the ingredients needed to gain community support.

"The onus is now on the Federal government to come towards the consensus position of the states and territories who have committed to renewable energy," said Pat Simons. 

Friends of the Earth will continue to work with communities to ensure their voice is heard in national energy policy. 

COMMENT: 

Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth climate spokesperson- 0406 316 176

Pat Simons, Friends of the Earth renewables spokesperson - 0415 789 961

Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth gas spokesperson - 0419 338 047

Wendy Farmer, Voices of the Valley - 0408 261 551