CANDIDATES for Ripon have refused to weigh in on the proposed open cut gold mine at Big Hill in Stawell.
Greens candidate Rod May is the only person contesting the seat with a firm opinion on the project, which he strongly opposes.
“We cannot support the opening of the mine under the proposal that we’ve seen,” he said.
“We believe that the proposed open cut mine in Stawell is something where there’s much too great a risk to the health of the population.”
Mr May said any economic benefits created by the mine were not worth the environmental risks.
“It brings a mixed basket of both benefits and liabilities and there are far better ways to boost economies and employment in the renewable energy sector,” he said.
He said the party was not opposed to the mining industry.
“The Greens are not against mining per se, but this particular proposal is not one that we can support,” he said.
Liberal candidate Louise Staley was non-committal about her support for either side.
“I’ve met with the mine operators as well as talking to many locals about the issue of open cut mining in Stawell,” she said.
“I’m glad the community has now had a say during the consultation process and I look forward to the minister making a decision once he has considered the independent panel’s findings.”
Labor candidate Daniel McGlone said he would support the mine as long as community concerns about the environment and health were addressed.
He said the proposal was a lot better than the one put forward more than a decade ago.
“They’ve really ramped up their investment in the project by having an exit strategy,” Mr McGlone said.
“An open cut is a concern but at the same time the company has gone an extraordinarily long way to address many of the issues.”
He said any chance to boost employment in Stawell should be taken seriously.
“In regional Victoria we’ve got serious unemployment that needs addressing,” he said.
“The opportunity of jobs cannot be looked at causally, you’ve got to take that seriously.
“Jobs and investment in Stawell are extremely important.
“It’s a delicate balancing act – employment versus the legitimate concerns of the community.”
Nationals candidate Scott Turner said he would back the communities views about the proposed mine.
“Until the minister makes the decision I’ll support the community of Stawell,” he said.
He said creating jobs was vital to Stawell, but he would await the minister’s decision before deciding which section of the community he supported on the issue.
The independent panel’s report has been delayed because of further questions about environmental issues associated with the project.
It is expected to be given to Planning Minister Matthew Guy next month.