The Napthine Government has failed to spend a dedicated environmental levy on its proper purpose of river protection and restoration, says a report released today by Victoria’s Auditor–General.
The Auditor-General was highly critical of how the money has been spent with millions of dollars of taxpayers money going into funding core responsibilities rather than being spent on the environmental projects for which the money was intended.
“The Auditor-General’s report shows how badly the Napthine government has mismanaged the environmental contribution levy,” said Environment Victoria Healthy Rivers campaigner Juliet Le Feuvre.
“Millions of dollars that should have been spent on improving the health of our rivers is instead propping up the government’s bottom line.
“This government is putting its cash flow ahead of our river flows and is failing both Victorian consumers and creeks.
“Victorians use up to 5,000 billion litres of water every year and this water use is putting our rivers under stress, with less than a quarter of the state’s rivers rated in good condition. The environmental levy paid by water authorities was set up to address these damaging impacts and promote sustainable water use.
“Extracting water for use in agriculture and in our homes and businesses damages our precious rivers.
“Victorians pay this levy in good faith but the Napthine government has spent only half the money it is required to spend by law on appropriate projects.
“There are many projects waiting for funding to improve river health, including fencing livestock out of rivers and restoring degraded river banks to benefit all water users as well as the environment. The environmental levy raises enough money to pay for a comprehensive program to remove livestock from all the river banks on public land – it should be used to protect our river banks rather than be sitting in the government’s bank.
“The failure of the Napthine government to use the money appropriately means our rivers are in worse condition than they need be,” said Ms Le Feuvre.
“Environment Victoria strongly endorses the Auditor-General’s findings and calls on Premier Napthine to immediately commit to spending all money raised through the environmental contribution levy on the purposes that are required by law – river restoration and sustainable water management.”
For comment: Juliet Le Feuvre 0428 770 019