An assessment of the Bracks Government’s environmental performance by environment groups finds the Government weak in its efforts to reduce Victoria’s greenhouse pollution levels and stop on-going logging in the state’s diminishing water catchments.
Environment Victoria, Greenpeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth and the Victorian National Parks Association released their assessment of what they consider to be the Bracks Government’s patchy environmental performance in its second term.
The groups have strongly criticised the government for extending the life of Hazelwood, Australia’s oldest and most greenhouse polluting power station which was scheduled to be shut down in 2005.
Environment Victoria’s Executive Director Marcus Godinho said, “The new lease on life given to Hazelwood by the Bracks Government undermines and negates all of its greenhouse reduction programs combined.”
“Climate Change is the most pressing environmental issue of our time. CSIRO predicts climate will reduce water in Melbourne by up to 35% by 2050 and increase the frequency and intensity of bushfires and storms in Victoria,” Mr Godinho said
Gavan McFadzean, Victorian Campaign Manager for the Wilderness Society said, “After some important gains in its first term, the plight of eastern Victoria’s forests has been poorly served by the Bracks Government this term, where woodchipping old-growth forests and water catchments has actually increased.”
Mr McFadzean said that each year over 7,000 truckloads of native forest were ripped out of Melbourne’s water catchments and old growth forests. He said this was having a direct and adverse impact on both water quantity and quality in these reservoirs.
“Victoria has fallen well behind Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, all of whom have moved to protect old growth forests.”
The organisations highlighted the Government’s reforms to water management and protection of the Alpine National Park as the outstanding achievements of the past four years.
“The Bracks Government has made significant progress on water reform in the last term, but water security issues remain critical for Victoria,” said Don Henry, Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation
“The Government needs to take further steps to protect our catchments and return our rivers to health, particularly committing more water to the Murray and stopping logging there and in our water catchments.”
Charlie Sherwin, Director of the Victorian National Parks Association said, “The decision to end damaging cattle-grazing in the fragile Alpine National Park was based on scientific evidence and showed real strength and leadership. The challenges ahead are to improve the health of all Victorian parks and to achieve real outcomes from the new white paper on land health and biodiversity.”
Greenpeace CEO Steve Shallhorn said, “The Bracks Government showed substantial leadership in introducing the legislated renewable energy target. Unfortunately it failed to demonstrate that same leadership when it came to the Hazelwood coal-fired power station.”
“We need a consistent approach to reducing greenhouse pollution which means requiring the coal sector to reduce emissions as well as encouraging renewable energy.”
Download the report: Review of Victorian Government’s Environmental Performance 2002-2006