Media Releases | 5th May, 2015

State Budget: modest progress, but more investment needed


5 May 2015

Environment Victoria has described today’s Victorian State Budget as a good foundation for stronger environmental decision-making in future budgets and plans of the Andrews Government.

The Budget largely delivered on Labor’s pre-election environment promises, which were useful but lacked detail and are inadequate for the environmental challenges the state faces.

Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham said today:
“We welcome the Andrews Government’s delivery of their environmental and climate change election promises.

“We also welcome their public statements since the election and in this budget that Victoria is prepared to lead on climate change, renewable energy and the environment again. This ambition contrasts sharply with the previous government’s reckless attacks on the environment.

“Current processes underway to develop a climate change action plan, renewable energy and energy efficiency and biodiversity strategies and a plan to protect river corridors have all been supported in this budget with modest funding commitments, but will need serious investment in the coming year if they are to address the state’s environmental challenges.”

Significant environmental commitments in the Budget include:

  • A $12m ‘Climate Change Action package’ which includes reviewing and strengthening the Climate Change Act and developing a Victorian Climate Change Action Plan
  • A $20m ‘New Energy’ fund to support renewable energy and energy storage projects
  • Significant spending of the Environmental Contribution Levy on water programs including: $10m for riparian (river corridor) land protection; $3m to purchase 8 GL of environmental water for the Thomson River delivering a long-standing promise; $2.5m for the Gippsland Lakes; $1m for the Yarra River Protection Act; $6.8m to improve water quality; and $8m to better manage the climate change threats and impacts for freshwater ecosystems
  • $10m to improve assets in National Parks and reserves
  • A very large investment in public transport
  • Departmental spending on environmental protection has increased on previous years
  • Additionally the Budget committed $30m to implement the recommendations of the Hazelwood mine fire inquiry and improve coal mine regulation.

On the Hazelwood mine fire inquiry Mr Wakeham said:
“While we welcome the Government’s commitment to implement all recommendations from the Hazelwood mine fire inquiry we are alarmed that that terrible event is costing Victorian taxpayers another $30 million. These costs should be recouped from the mine operators not the public, and highlights that Victoria desperately needs to develop a plan to clean up and modernise our outdated and polluting energy supply.”

On the need to increase environmental expenditure Mr Wakeham said:
“This budget begins to spend the accumulated landfill levy and environmental contribution levy that all Victorians pay. However there remains a very large and growing bucket of funds that have been raised for environmental programs and that are not being spent by the state government. For example, this year the Victorian Sustainability Fund – money raised from landfill levies which is required to be spent on environmental programs – will reach the $400 million mark. This year we need a clear plan of action to use these funds to restore nature and address climate change.”

In conclusion Mr Wakeham said:
“We are encouraged by this budget, but now it’s time to deliver for the environment. The state’s rivers are in decline, biodiversity is at crisis point and Victoria needs to rapidly decarbonise our economy and clean up our energy supply.

“Victorians want and need a plan from this government to make Victoria an environmental leader.”


For comment:
Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria CEO, 0439 700 501