Despite delays to significant Victorian tenancy and environmental protection laws due to the Coronavirus, state agencies should use this time to strengthen regulations, Environment Victoria said today.
Updates to Victoria’s Environment Protection Act and the Residential Tenancies Act, that were set to start this July, have been delayed by the Victorian government’s Omnibus bill to deal with coronavirus. This now gives the Environment Protection Authority and Consumer Affairs (respectively) an opportunity to strengthen the regulations.
“Environment Victoria is disappointed to see these important reforms delayed, but we appreciate that the pandemic has upended a lot of things,” said Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle.
“The sooner the new regulations come into effect, the better. But in the meantime, the delay should be used to further improve these regulations.
“Despite being raised in many submissions to their consultation, the EPA has failed to include in its proposed regulations any framework for dealing with greenhouse gases.
“Climate change remains a major blindspot for the EPA. Their unwillingness or inability to tackle this major environmental challenge continues to undermine their claims to be a modern environmental regulator.
“The EPA’s argument for not including greenhouse gases in the current round of reforms was that they wouldn’t have enough time. Well now they do. There can’t be any more excuses.”
Amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, which were due to take effect in July 2020 but are now being delayed to July 2021, would have implemented some basic steps towards implementing energy efficiency requirements for rental properties.
“With more and more people spending a lot of time at home and using more energy, this pandemic should be a critical moment for helping people to reduce their power bills by making homes more energy efficient.
“The standards that were to take effect this year fell a long way short of what we and many groups in the social sector were hoping for.
“Many rental properties are dangerously cold in winter, hot in summer, and too expensive to heat or cool effectively. Tenants have little power in this situation.
“Mandatory minimum standards for energy efficiency are needed to help the hundreds of thousands of Victorians who rent their homes to stay safe this winter, and to reduce their power bills forever.”
Also in Victorian Parliament today is an interim appropriations bill that will enable the Latrobe Valley Authority to continue beyond June, when its funding was due to run out.
“In these difficult times, we welcome the decision to ensure the Latrobe Valley Authority can continue its very important work of supporting the community and creating new economic opportunities in the region,” said Dr Aberle.
Dr Nicholas Aberle, Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager
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