Blog | 1st Dec, 2011

Has the Baillieu Government changed its tune on climate action or is its support for Melbourne as the home of the new Climate Change Authority blatant opportunism?

I’m wondering if I’ve woken up in some kind of alternative universe or has the Premier really changed his tune on climate change?

Our Premier Ted Baillieu is rather chuffed that Melbourne will be the home of the new Climate Change Authority because it “will position Victoria as the centre for Australia’s clean technology, energy efficiency, and carbon trading industries.” And hey, it IS wonderful news and I say well done Mr Premier! But is this blatant opportunism by the Baillieu Government or do they really see clean energy as the future for our state?

After all the Baillieu Government did vehemently oppose the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future package saying that Victoria would suffer greatly if it went ahead. And they have LIMITED growth of clean energy in Victoria through their decisions on wind farms and solar panels.

So where does the Baillieu Government stand on climate action?

In opposition the State Coalition supported action on climate change. They supported a national price on pollution. They supported Victoria’s nation leading goal to reduce dangerous greenhouse pollution. They backed market incentives to grow the solar industry in Victoria. These were all strong and smart moves that if implemented would give Victoria a share of the $10 billon in clean energy investment and jobs that are up for grabs.

But since forming government the State Coalition has broken these promises and are positioning Victoria as a clean energy loser. They’ve back-flipped on pricing greenhouse pollution and the clean energy jobs it creates. They’ve expanded coal mines and supported new coal plants while putting in place laws that make it very difficult to build clean energy like wind farms. They’ve slashed the financial incentives to put solar panels in Victorian homes. And they paint our state target for pollution reduction as ‘aspirational’ but they do not aspire to seriously act to meet it.

These decisions shirk our state’s responsibilities to do our fair share in reducing the pollution we create. These decisions make us more vulnerable to dangerous and unpredictable climate change that will hurt us in the form of fires and floods and food and water insecurity. They are decisions that affect our health, our jobs and our future.

I am pleased that the Climate Change Authority is coming to Melbourne but surely the Premier understands that this alone will not drive clean energy and make us safe from extreme climate change. The Baillieu Government needs to stop playing games and stop taking us backwards on climate change. They need a clear plan on climate action that reduces pollution, grows clean energy and makes Victoria a safe place to live.

And finally a direct plea to Premier Baillieu. Please don’t take Victorians for granted by talking about clean energy while doing your best to undermine it. It’s disrespectful and unworthy of a Premier.

Read more about the state government’s performance on the environment in our Envirowatch section >