You Were Right: Inquiry Vindicates Latrobe Valley Locals

15 April 2016

The people of the Latrobe Valley have been vindicated by the landmark final inquiry into the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire. Now, the Andrews Labor Government is taking action ensuring coal mining is safe in the present and supporting mine rehabilitation in the future.

The Premier today joined Minister for Energy and Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio, and Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, and Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, in Morwell to announce a $51.2 million package to implement the recommendations of the re-opened Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry.

The Inquiry vindicates the locals who fought to have their concerns heard. Now, the community has the answers and certainty and justice they always deserved. The reports say:

  • It is likely the Hazelwood Mine Fire contributed to some increase in deaths in the Latrobe Valley in 2014
  • Government must work with the community on health improvement initiatives
  • The mining regulator must review the rehabilitation bonds of the Latrobe Valley coal mines
  • Work needs to begin now to improve progressive rehabilitation and plan for end of mine life.

As part of the Government’s response to the reopened Inquiry, over $50 million will be provided in the 2016-17 Victorian Budget to implement the recommendations.

The Government is responding to all of the recommendations and will work side by side with communities in the Valley to improve the health and well-being of current and future generations.

The Government will:

  • Establish a new Latrobe Valley Health Zone, the first of its kind in Australia, which will focus on improving health outcomes for the Valley’s youngest residents to its oldest. Increase access to health screening so serious diseases and illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease can be detected earlier and treated sooner
  • Expand allied health services for people suffering from chronic disease management, support tele-medicine and provide targeted funding for local Aboriginal communities
  • Invest in new prevention initiatives to promote healthy behaviours, improve mental health and address family violence from childcare centres to schools to workplaces
  • Review the scope of the long term health study to determine whether it should be expanded to include first responders such as firefighters
  • Test for coal ash contamination in roof cavities in Morwell
  • Establish permanent air quality monitoring sites in the Latrobe Valley to provide up-to-date air monitoring to the community through the EPA’s Air Watch website
  • Expand the State Smoke Framework to provide better advice to communities impacted by smoke
  • Develop a regional strategy for rehabilitation of the Latrobe Valley coal mines and modernise the regulation of Victoria’s coal mines to ensure transparency and clarity for community and industry
  • Increase the existing bonds to 50 per cent of the mine's self-assessed value by June 2016 and 100 per cent by January 2017, while developing a more effective system to set future rehabilitation bonds

The Labor Government has now invested over $80 million to support the Latrobe Valley community and implement the recommendations of the 2014 and re-opened Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Reports.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“The people of the Latrobe Valley have been completely vindicated. I’m so proud of their efforts. They never gave up and neither will we.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio

“We are acting immediately to increase the rehabilitation bonds for the Latrobe Valley coal mines so the community can be confident the mines are safe and will be rehabilitated.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy

“The community raised concerns about the impact of the Mine Fire on their health but these were ignored by the former Government. We’ve listened to their concerns and we’re putting the health and well-being of families in the Valley first.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing

"This funding will continue the work we've done with communities here since 2014 to improve the health, resources and potential in the Valley."

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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