The Victorian government is hosting a conference for coal producers while victims struggle with the impact of the Hazelwood coal mine fire, an environmental group says.
Environment Victoria is protesting outside Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, where the third International Low Rank Coal Industry Symposium begins on Monday.
The group’s acting chief executive officer, Mark Wakeham, says clean-up efforts from the Hazelwood mine fire have stalled but the government will hand out $90 million in grants for new Latrobe Valley coal projects.
“The smoke has barely lifted in the Latrobe Valley and yet the government is at the Hyatt courting polluting plans for the Latrobe Valley,” he said.
“It’s insulting to those suffering in Morwell that the government is this week showing polluters around the very sites that caused the disaster in the first place.”
The Hazelwood mine fire began on February 9 when two nearby bushfires spread into the brown coal mine. The fire burned for 45 days, blanketing the town of Morwell in acrid smoke for weeks.
A board of inquiry into the response to the fire, chaired by former Supreme Court justice Bernard Teague, is underway.
Comment is being sought from the state government.