Blog | 17th Apr, 2020

5 ideas we need now: how Victoria can build back better

In these challenging times we can sustain ourselves with brighter and more hopeful visions of the future. Here are 5 practical ideas to grow an economy that works for people and planet.

Right now the government’s priority should be making sure we all have what we need to be safe and well.

But while the timeline is still unclear, at some point our self-imposed hibernation will come to an end. It must be followed by concerted plans to create jobs and reset our economy, and the Andrews government will soon be deciding how to do that.

Together we need to ensure they are making the right choices. Sustainable solutions are fantastic job creators, and the government should help households and businesses in a way that also reverses the destruction of our climate and natural world.

Below is a summary of the ideas we have sent to key ministers and advisors (you can see the full document here). But we’re also asking supporters to contact their local MP and express their support for this positive vision.

This blog expands on the ideas published in our opinion piece in the Age newspaper.

This pandemic has shown we’re only as strong as the communities and environment around us. So let’s make sure we learn the lessons of this moment. Lessons like how amazing things happen when communities join together for a common cause. Or the ability of democratic governments to act in the best interests of all, and the importance of following the advice of our best scientists.

By connecting and moving forward together we can plant the seeds for a fairer and more sustainable society.







1. Reducing energy bills through efficiency, electrification and renewables

We are approaching winter and Australians are spending a lot more time at home. The Victorian government could help households lower their running costs through energy efficiency upgrades, solar panels and switching homes from old gas heaters to efficient electrical alternatives.

Priority should be given to public and Indigenous housing and low-income rental housing. This would help to ensure that those who have already been pushed to the brink by low wages and high housing costs can remain warm and comfortable through the winter. This will also reduce the risk of respiratory infections and other health issues.

The opportunities reach beyond housing. Now is the perfect time for largely empty public schools to make similar energy efficiency upgrades – permanently reducing the government’s energy bills.

2. Modernising the energy grid

In Victoria, the Andrews government needs to modernise our ageing energy grid. It has new powers to accelerate the construction of urgently needed transmission lines and additional battery storage. This would not only create employment opportunities, it would also open access to renewable energy zones for future wind and solar farms to connect to the grid.

Investing in local renewable energy supply chains and training facilities would enable Victorians to reap even greater benefits from this energy transition.

4 examples that prove climate action is great for local jobs

Environment Victoria

In our report ‘Making sure the renewable boom delivers for Victorians’ we show how the Victorian Renewable Energy Target is supporting local manufacturers, and giving them the certainty to invest and grow their workforce.


3. Bushfire recovery

For many Australians, the pandemic arrived on top of the trauma and destruction caused by the summer bushfires.

The recovery work in these fire-hit communities needs to continue, with a focus on rebuilding homes, public facilities and farm infrastructure. For remote communities, renewable energy-powered microgrids with batteries can provide immediate power and increased resilience for future disasters.

These measures should be rolled out by employing as much local labour as possible – both to create opportunities in severely-impacted regions and to minimise the risk of spreading the virus into those communities.





4. Environmental restoration

Thousands of jobs could be created in conservation. Planting millions of trees, eradicating invasive animals, weed control, habitat restoration – a short term surge in investment would help people and our degraded natural environment recover.

Fencing off crown river frontages is another opportunity. This stops the significant damage that livestock do to vegetation and water quality, and a recent state government program has over-delivered and at lower-than-expected cost. But its funding is due to expire this year.

5. Improving public and active transport options

There are many opportunities within cities and town (including regional centres) to create more sustainable and more connected communities.

• Boost tree canopy cover and reduce the urban heat island effect – which is when built-up areas retain too much heat overnight and in heatwaves.

• Upgrades to public transport while occupancy rates are lower than normal

• Upgrades to healthy active transport. Shifting shorter trips away from cars and towards walking, cycling will reduce congestion and improve air quality. This involves providing safe bike lanes that are separated from motor vehicles, especially along busy routes. The RACV has identified a network of cycling routes across Melbourne that could create a cycling “super-highway”. This work could be rolled out while commuter traffic volumes are low.

• Boost urban agriculture and establish community food gardens on public land. Local food production is a fantastic solution that can increase access to fresh food for low-income communities, enhance the resilience of our food supply, improve mental health and build stronger bonds within a community.

As we move through this moment of crisis, we can reflect on our shared values and use them as a guide for what comes next.
You can help by sharing this positive vision and practical ideas to build back better with your local MP >>