The Bracks Government must dramatically improve Victoria’s public transport, forest and native wildlife management if it is to maintain its green credentials, the state’s key conservation groups have warned.
A mid-term review of the Government’s environmental policies by five groups has found that while there have been achievements in water and energy since 2002, progress in other areas was urgently needed by the next election in November 2006.
“The Bracks Government is heading in the right direction but needs to accelerate the rate of change,” said the report card.
The groups said the Government must address seven key priorities including:
Environment Victoria Executive Director Marcus Godinho said while the Government’s direction was commendable the rate of change had been too slow.
“The Government has made strong inroads, particularly tackling tough and complex issues such as water reform,” said Mr Godinho.
“With warnings by scientists on the future health of the planet becoming increasingly urgent we cannot afford to delay change or neglect certain areas. The soon-to-be-released transport plan is an example of the need for swift change. Public transport has been the poor relation of cars for too long.”
Victorian National Parks Association Director Charlie Sherwin said the State Government needed to boost its credentials on national plants and animals.
“Victoria led Australia on biodiversity in the ‘80s. Major initiatives in nature conservation were born here,” said Mr Sherwin. “But in the last decade Victoria has fallen drastically behind with conservation policy and funding not matching the scale of what in reality is an extinction crisis.”
Australian Conservation Foundation Executive Director Don Henry said there needed to be a whole-of-Government approach to the environment.
“The Government says it wants to be a world leader on environmental sustainability – this direction and intention is to be applauded, and we await the sustainability initiatives currently being planned,” said Mr Henry.
“If Victoria is to have a prosperous economy and be a safe and healthy place for future generations then the Bracks Government must demonstrate this leadership through measurable outcomes.”
Mr Godinho added that the Opposition needed to improve its contribution to environmental policies.
A full copy of the report card is available here