Morwell – Greens: Daniel Caffrey

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Greens candidate Daniel Caffrey hopes to use his platform to promote the Greens policy of spending $500 million in developing new sustainable energy industries.

The Greens have not had much luck in the seat, with a best result of about 7 per cent of the vote.

“I accept what is, and I just want to get out there and raise public awareness on these issues, which are urgent,” he says.

While some candidates are running on promises of rebuilding the coal power industry in Morwell. Caffrey offers a different solution.

“My main thrust as a candidate is the transformation of the Valley, along with the Greens policy to be zero-carbon by 2030.”

He is calling for a phasing out of the reliance on a coal-fired power industry, and its replacement with a clean and sustainable energy industry.

“The skills that many of the coal workers have are transferable too, so we need to try and use those skills in a renewable energy sector here.”

Caffrey has proposed a radical plan and has called for the electorate to set its sights on the development of new technology and what he calls hydrogen grid balancing. Caffrey is passionate about the urgency to implement progressive environmental policies and the fact that he is a science educator is very evident.

“In the Valley if we want to gear ourselves up for the future, this is our opportunity. If we leave it for another 5 or 10 years, we would have missed our opportunity, and we would have missed our opportunity to meet the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement.

“It all starts here where well over a third of the greenhouse gases are produced in Victoria, in the Latrobe Valley in our power stations. This is where we start if we are serious about climate change.”

The electorate of Morwell is well known for its electricity production. However, following the closure of Hazelwood, the region has been going through a tough time. Latrobe City Council has reported an unemployment rate of 15.6 per cent for the area. This is close to triple the national trend unemployment rate of 5.4 per cent as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Despite these figures, Caffrey’s outlook for Morwell is one of resilience.

“We have all these assets here to become a renewable energy hub and an export hub for hydrogen. A main focus of mine is to try and get these industries up and going now.”

It was Caffrey’s background in dairy farming and organic chemistry that focused his attention on the need to create better environmental policies and combat climate change.

“I’ve been very worried about climate change since I was at uni,” he says. “On a farm, when there’s a drought on and you haven’t got irrigation, basically that’s where the farming stops.”  

Caffrey’s first engagement on environmental issues was in the form of a letter to the editor of his local newspaper, lamenting the “wanton destruction” of trees and forested areas.

“The Rudd Government got elected and we thought, ‘oh beautiful we’ve got firm action’, but it never happened. So, my letter-writing got more and more intense.” These concerns led to the formation of the Latrobe Valley Sustainability Group, of which Caffrey has been the secretary for the past six years.

“We are advocating for the transformation of the Valley, and a transition away from coal-fired power stations”.

Heavily critical of Liberal and Labor policies, Caffrey has said that the big parties “don’t have the guts” to implement environmentally sustainable policies.

Born and raised in Gippsland, while pursuing a degree in Aquatic Science in Melbourne, Caffrey worked night-shifts at a dairy plant to support himself. He then trained to be a science teacher, and began his career in education in Tasmania.

Today Caffrey teaches science at Lavalla Catholic College in Traralgon, where he has been living with his family for the past 21 years.