Environment groups have urged Treasury to increase environmental funding – particularly for national parks and the sustainability commissioner – in the lead up to the State Budget.
The five groups said this year’s robust Victorian economy must invest in areas that were ignored in last year’s budget.
Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth Coordinator said: “the Victorian economy is in a very sound position and the Bracks Government is well placed to make the necessary investments in our natural heritage.”
The groups recommend a significant reinvestment in the management of our national parks and reserves and initiatives to better manage private bushland. Charlie Sherwin, Victoria National Parks Association Director said: “A recent assessment showed that the funding for the management of our parks estate has failed to keep up with inflation, the growth in the area under management as well as community expectations”.
“The Bracks Government has not done enough to protect old growth forests and Melbourne’s water catchments from the woodchipping industry. Leadership is needed in this budget to protect forests and move the logging industry’s reliance to Victoria’s plantation sector, now the largest in the country.” Gavan McFadzean, The Wilderness Society.
Environment Victoria Executive Director, Marcus Godinho, calls for a new pricing scheme for electricity. “The Victorian Government has demonstrated that it is possible to combine environmental, social and economic objectives in the new pricing scheme for water and its associated concession package. We propose the Government investigate a similar scheme for electricity,” he said.
The Treasurer is also being urged to increase funds to the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability. Mike Krockenberger, Australian Conservation Strategies Director said “the Commissioner has not yet received enough resources to perform his legislated duties. The Commissioner must be adequately funded to ensure that he does not become a lame duck, with hefty responsibilities and no resources to carry them out with”.
The five groups met recently with the Treasurer, Mr Brumby, to discuss the environmental priorities for the 2005 – 2006 State Budget, as detailed in the Environment Liaison Office pre- Budget Submission.
The Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) of Cabinet is currently making final decisions about the allocation of resources for the 2005-2006 State Budget. The ERC meets over the mid-February to the end of March period to allocate resources to specific initiatives and agencies, within the strategic parameters establishes at previous meetings.