Both major parties are missing in action when it comes to nature and conservation policy according to Victoria’s five leading environmental groups who have come together today to launch a joint agenda to protect our natural environment.
The agenda comes as new statewide polling (1500 people), commissioned by the Victorian National Parks Association, shows that support for establishing new national parks is higher than ever.
Matt Ruchel, Executive Director of the Victorian National Parks Association said: “Looking after our natural heritage is a key state responsibility, but the major parties have so far dropped the ball. Over 45% of Victorians agreed that they were more likely to vote for a political party which has a comprehensive nature conservation and national park policy.”
“The majority of Victorians support parks and nature protection, with more than 70 percent of people supporting both the comprehensive parks network, new national parks across the state, improved funding for parks and threatened species management,” said Matt Ruchel.
“Over 80 percent of people supported new marine national parks, but Victoria hasn’t had a new marine park since 2002.”
Environment Victoria has released a scorecard showing that while the Victorian Labor party has made significant announcements related to clean energy and climate change, its nature policy remains woefully inadequate.
Mark Wakeham, CEO of Environment Victoria said: “Labor’s record on National Parks is really disappointing.
“They have yet to create the Great Forest National Park, failed to significantly expand our existing reserves, and have no credible transition plan for workers in the logging sector.
“Meanwhile Matthew Guy’s Liberal party have caved into the Nationals by ruling out creating any new parks in the Central Highlands. This is despite Victorians clearly wanting and expecting better stewardship of our natural environment.
“So far it is only the Greens have put forward a clear and strong environment policy that will establish new National Parks, protect our forests and strengthen the state’s threatened species laws,” said Mark Wakeham.
Both Friends of the Earth and the Wilderness Society have been running high profile campaigns to make voters aware of the dire need to protect our forests, to transition the wood and fibre industry out of native forests, and to create new national parks and other reserves taking into account Traditional Owner aspirations for Co-orJoint Management.
Amelia Young, Victorian Campaigns Manager at the Wilderness Society said: “The Andrews Government has deserted our forests when Victorians want them protected and want more national parks. The vast majority of Victorians want state forests protected, not logged and woodchipped, and they want workers supported while leaving the industry.
“Approximately 70 per cent of voters support statewide the expansion of national parks in the Central Highlands and East Gippsland, the regions where the Great Forest National Park and the Emerald Link are proposed. But when it comes to forests, due to industry pressure and fear mongering, the Andrews Government has spent the entire term either paralysed, or dithering, and must do better if re-elected,” said Amelia Young.
Ed Hill, Friends of the Earth’s Forest Campaigner, said: “The Andrew’s Labor government’s lousy record on protecting nature leaves a lot to be desired. Progress on climate change and renewable energy is welcome, but no climate policy is complete without protecting Victoria’s carbon-rich forests from logging and burning.”
Brendan Sydes, CEO of Environmental Justice Australia said: “Victoria urgently needs to strengthen the laws that protect our threatened species. Everyday, hundreds of threatened species get closer to extinction, but we have made so little progress in strengthening the laws that protect nature.
“This election can be a chance to arrest this decline and provide real protection for nature.”
Polling available here: https://vnpa.org.au/victorian-polling-results/
Environment Victoria scorecard available here: https://bit.ly/2zGPLsj
Comprehensive vision to protect nature here: https://bit.ly/2PqZD3X