On 23 February, after the Victorian Opposition voted against legislation to cut climate pollution, volunteers staged a protest outside of the office of Liberal MP Inga Peulich. That day she stood up in Parliament and called for an investigation into the funding and activities of Environment Victoria. Here’s our letter in response, including some questions of our own for the Coalition to answer.
Dear Ms Peulich,
As CEO of Environment Victoria, I am writing in response to questions you asked of the Special Minister for State and comments you made about Environment Victoria in the Legislative Council on Thursday 23 February 2017.
I welcome your interest in the work of Environment Victoria, because we are working on behalf of the majority of your constituency. Research released by Sustainability Victoria last week found that 93 percent of Victorians want state government action on climate change, and four out of five Victorians are willing to take action on climate change. These are the people we represent, and we do so independently, openly and transparently.
The volunteers outside your electorate office last week live in your electorate and are representative of this 93 percent, because for them action by the Coalition and all political parties on climate change is a priority. While there were no Environment Victoria staff present, I can assure you that if the Coalition continues to oppose environmental measures and lacks its own environmental agenda, we will continue to inform Victorians this is where their alternative government stands when it comes to protecting our environment.
Since 1969, Environment Victoria has worked with all sides of politics for policies that protect and restore the environment and reduce greenhouse pollution. Since the Coalition lost office in 2014, we have met a number of times with your Shadow Ministers for Environment and Energy, Brad Battin and David Southwick. Both assured us that despite differences of opinion in the past they are keen to work constructively to develop stronger environment and energy policy.
In November 2016, I wrote to the Opposition Leader, the Hon. Matthew Guy, on how we hoped to work with the Coalition to protect Victoria’s environment and reduce our climate pollution. I received no response and since then the Coalition has:
We want to work constructively with you and your party. Unfortunately, the absence of any current Victorian Coalition environment policies and the Coalition’s general opposition to recent positive initiatives by the Andrews Government raise questions about your commitment to good environmental and climate outcomes.
I am happy to answer any questions you have about Environment Victoria and our work, and in return I would appreciate answers from you or one of your colleagues to some of our questions about the Victorian Coalition and its environment policy:
Does the Coalition plan to develop or release a positive environment policy any time soon? The last formal environment platform the Coalition released was in 2006 – more than a decade ago.
Why is the Coalition not representing the 93% of Victorians who want state government leadership on climate change?
I have responded in full to each of the comments and questions you raised in regard to Environment Victoria in the Legislative Council last week, and welcome the opportunity to discuss these, along with the questions I have raised, with you or one of your colleagues at any time.
I want to work with the Coalition to build an environmental platform that will serve Victorians for generations to come, but until I see any Coalition action on the environment I will not apologise for informing your constituency that this is where you stand.
CEO, Environment Victoria
This letter, and a response to each of the points made by Ms Peulich in the Parliament (see link below), was also sent to Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, Shadow Minister for Environment Brad Battin and Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources David Southwick.