Environment Victoria has described today’s budget as a continuation of the Coalition’s deeply disappointing record on protecting the environment and supporting clean energy and an abandonment of key pre-election environment promises.
Environment Victoria’s Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said today:
“If you’re in the business of coal mining, road building or port dredging this budget is for you. If however, you are like most Victorians and concerned about the environment and the future we are leaving for our kids this budget lets you down.”
“The Budget confirms that the Coalition has abandoned key election promises outlined in its 2010 Energy and Planning policies given they will now not be significantly advanced in this term of Government.”
“The Coalition’s promise to improve the energy efficiency of Victorian homes to a 5 star average has been ignored in this and previous budgets, guaranteeing no significant progress in this term of government. This is deeply disappointing given that improving the energy efficiency of Victorian homes would deliver cost savings for households as well as environmental benefits and job creation.”
“Similarly the pre-election commitment to ensure 5% of the State’s electricity is generated from solar power by 2020 has again been ignored at budget time and is unlikely to be achieved.”
“Meanwhile taxpayers are footing a $4 million bill in this budget to repair failing coal mines in the Latrobe Valley; Clean Coal Victoria is receiving $8.3 million in new funding in part to run a PR campaign for a technology which doesn’t exist; $19 million is being spent to fast-track mining exploration; and $110 million is being spent to develop Western Port Bay with a view to establishing a coal export industry. When it comes to energy policy the Napthine Government is obsessed with developing the coal resource at all costs.
“The Budget papers also confirmed significant cuts to departmental spending on environment protection, with an 8.7% cut to the budget for Environmental Protection and Statutory Activities.”
Mr Wakeham said that the Coalition was backing last century’s industries instead of embracing the rapidly growing clean energy and environmental restoration jobs that will be the powerhouses of the 21st century. Transport spending in the budget reflected this outmoded approach:
“The budget has bet the house on a new freeway to rejuvenate Victoria’s economy, reflecting last century’s thinking and tunnel vision, while public transport is the poor cousin ”.
Mr Wakeham acknowledged however that there were some useful, if small, areas of new environmental expenditure.
“$7 million to begin to improve the health of the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay, $12 million for new waste programs and $25 million of new funding for new coastal, native vegetation and threatened species spending will be welcomed by local community groups and will support important work. However they are undermined by other budgetary allocations to increase hunting and controlled burning which undermine biodiversity protection efforts. This inconsistent approach highlights the lack of a clear Coalition environmental policy that sets strategic directions to reverse environmental decline state-wide.
“More impressive is the funding for an Office of Living Victoria which aims to introduce systemic change to the way Victorians use and conserve urban water given the project’s holistic vision.
Mr Wakeham concluded: “Under a new Premier and Treasurer this Budget offered the opportunity to deliver on key environment election commitments made by the Coalition and to turn around the Coalition Government’s poor performance on the environment.”
“Unfortunately that opportunity has been squandered leaving little time for the Napthine Government to deliver a credible environment or clean energy agenda in this term of government.”
 Budget Paper No.3, p.98
Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham 3 9341 8127