Member for Morwell Russell Northe has today made it clear to the Minister for Resources Jaclyn Symes in Parliament that the Latrobe Valley community demands to see Hazelwood Pondage retained and reopened for public access and recreation uses.
“After over fifty years of operation, Hazelwood power station was an enormous part of the Latrobe Valley community and its closure was a bitter pill for many locals. In addition to this loss is the fact that Hazelwood Pondage has been closed since mid-last year, due to structural concerns. It is the fear of many locals and tourists that the Pondage may never reopen for public use, which would be an awful shame for those who love the unique aspects of what the Pondage offers”, Mr Northe said.
“The Pondage is a popular destination, frequented by an enormous amount of people both local and visitors, bringing considerable tourism dollars to our region” he added, “In fact, it is one of the most commonly searched for items on the Visit Latrobe City website”.
“In addition, it’s a valuable resource for community groups, for example the Latrobe Valley Yacht Club. This is such a wonderful Club that has been operating for over forty years: they have constructed valuable infrastructure at the site with their own funds, and also volunteer to run the local ‘Sailability’ program”, said Mr Northe.
“Our local Sailability program has been operated by the Latrobe Valley Yacht Club with its dedicated group of volunteers, for over 18 years – providing a rewarding recreational pursuit for people of all abilities” said Mr Northe.
Despite questioning the former Minister for Resources nearly 12 months ago on whether the Government was prepared to work with Engie, Council and the community on keeping the Pondage open, it appears the State Government has no interest in retaining this iconic and valued body of water. To not even try and explore all possible options to retain the Pondage is a derelict of the State Government’s duty and just so disappointing from a community perspective.
“Unfortunately today, and during previous engagement with the State Government, there has been no commitment made to the community regarding the retention of the Pondage”, said Mr Northe.
“The State Government allowed Hazelwood Power Station to close abruptly and it now stands idle as Hazelwood Pondage continues to be closed for public use and that’s a disgrace”, concluded Mr Northe.