Blog | 1st Jul, 2014

River health or government wealth?

Victoria’s rivers are in trouble. We are taking too much water out, letting too much pollution in and degrading our riverbanks by allowing livestock unrestricted access.

These problems are well documented and have been long acknowledged by government.

Despite this, the state’s Auditor-General has revealed that the Napthine government is failing to spend dedicated money that was raised through an environmental levy on water bills, on addressing these impacts.

His report shows that the government prefers to put our money in the bank to fund core business rather than spending it on the river bank, as required by law.

Not all environmental impacts are difficult to deal with. Stock access to waterways has been identified as the number one manageable impact on river health in just about every catchment in Victoria.

The environmental contribution levy that all Victorians pay on their water bills generates enough money to fund a comprehensive program to exclude livestock from public land on river banks.

This achievable action would provide multiple benefits for biodiversity, water quality, stock management and community amenity.

This should be where our missing millions are going.

The Napthine government has not been spending the levy we pay through our water bills on the purposes for which it is intended – river restoration and sustainable water management.

It is time for the Premier to get his priorities straight and invest our money where it belongs – protecting our rivers.