Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bracks enlisted for Richardson's Northcote ALP launch

Former Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, was tonight enlisted to launch a bid to "Keep Northcote Labor" and re-elect Right faction Labor Unity MP, Fiona Richardson, who has held the State seat since her election in 2006.

Northcote is one of four inner-Melbourne seats now under threat from the Greens, and the recent federal election poses the question of whether Martin Ferguson's poor result in Batman will translate to a State political poll among a constituency shared between the State and federal seats.

Labor concern over Northcote is one reason why the popular Mr Bracks may have been called into play, but it should be remembered that his famous victory in 1999 marked the rise of the Independents in Victoria, and the federal hung Parliament may yet be echoed in the State result, to the benefit of Greens and Independents - not to mention more representative and participatory democracy.

The launch event held, at Northcote's Regal Ballroom, attracted a lively crowd, among them climate campaigners protesting the Victorian Government's addiction to brown-coal-fired electricity generation, including its current consideration of a proposal by HRL for a brown-coal-gasification plant in the Latrobe Valley.

The Brumby Government has made much noise of late about its proposed partial closure of International Power's Hazelwood plant, Australia's dirtiest coal-fired power station, but the HRL proposal, if approved, would negate any emissions savings from that inadequate measure.

The Government has also focused talk of compensation for the partial Hazelwood closure on International Power, rather than workers who may be displaced by the transition to a low-emissions economy. The mooted billions of compensation to the corporate giant would also redirect vital public funds away from investment in renewable energy projects that could generate sustainable jobs in the same region.

With a string of negative issues besieging the Victorian Government - from Dirt Units to dirty coal - Labor will be sorely challenged to sanitise its image by parading Mr Bracks before Victorian voters cast their ballots on 27 November.

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