Today’s State Budget delivers significant investment in modernising the Environment Protection Authority and protecting biodiversity, but fails to demonstrate how Victoria will achieve its climate change and renewable energy targets, said Environment Victoria.
Environment Victoria’s CEO Mark Wakeham said today:
“The Andrews government has previously announced welcome targets to boost renewable energy and cut the state’s greenhouse pollution by 15-20 percent by 2020. Given this is just three years away we expected to see significant investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and cutting pollution across the economy in this budget.
“Unfortunately, expenditure on climate change and clean energy programs in the budget is dwarfed by over $1 billion funding for new freeways that are likely to increase the state’s greenhouse pollution.
“It’s really disappointing that in a budget with a $1.2 billion surplus we haven’t found adequate funding to match Victoria’s leadership aspirations on climate change and renewable energy.
“This is the third of four budgets that will be delivered by the Andrews government in this term, and none of them have treated climate change as the grave threat that it is to our safety, prosperity and quality of life, despite positive policies and commitments by the Premier between budgets.
“New funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy storage programs is welcome but not at the scale necessary to drive the state’s transition to a renewable energy-powered economy.”
Mr Wakeham said there were more positive results for Victorian’s natural environment with a comprehensive funding package $162m to modernise the Environment Protection Authority which delivers on the ALP’s pre-election promise.
“The EPA will now have the resources and mandate to protect Victoria’s environment in the 21st century, though it will also need clearer powers to regulate greenhouse pollution.
“We were also pleased with the $86m announced to implement the new biodiversity plan and the two-year boost in funding for extra park rangers in the State’s National Parks.
“The $20m investment in Greener Government Buildings is a welcome rebuilding of a program that was slashed by the previous government.”
Environment Victoria closely examined expenditure from environmental levies including the Sustainability Fund and the Environmental Contribution Levy paid on water bills – an area where successive governments have failed to fully spend levies that are raised for environmental programs.
Mr Wakeham said:
“On this score there was real progress in this budget with at least $175m expenditure from the Sustainability Fund, and nearly all the annual contributions from the Environment Contribution Levy being spent this year, though we are concerned that a couple of the programs funded are not primarily concerned with delivering environmental benefits.”
Finally, there was no funding in the budget clearly earmarked for protection of the Leadbeater’s possum habitat and establishment of the Great Forest National Park.
“Creating the Great Forest National Park is an urgent priority for conservation in Victoria, and we’re running out of time to protect a critically endangered species.”
“Overall, there are some strong commitments in the budget for our environment, but we are not yet taking adequate action on climate change which threatens to irreparably damage Victoria’s natural environment, communities and industry.”
Major items of environmental spending in the 2017-18 State Budget:
Environment Victoria’s budget submission is available here.
Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria CEO
Mobile: 0439 700 501