Joint statement: Coalition government worst in recent memory on environment

Parliament-of-Victoria-Melbourne-.jpgThe Baillieu/ Napthine government has the poorest track record on the protection and restoration of the environment of any government since Victoria’s peak environment groups were founded in the 1950s.

The state’s environment groups, Environment Victoria (founded 1969), The Wilderness Society (founded 1976), Friends of the Earth (founded 1973) and the Victorian National Parks Association (founded 1952) have today said that the past four years of policy under the Napthine and Baillieu Governments represents a wholesale attack on the state’s environment.

13 November 2014

 
  • Ballieu/Napthine government worst for environment in 60 years
  • Victorian environment groups mobilising for nature protection and climate action
  • Polling shows Victorians care about their environment and climate change

The state government has introduced damaging policies including:

  • Undermining climate change action (mothballed the Climate Change Act and abolishing the 20% carbon pollution reduction target)
  • Weakening the renewable energy industry (effectively banned wind farms, cut support for solar power and hot water, abandoned 5% solar target)
  • Promoting increased coal mining and gas extraction industry (over $70 million spent on trying to create a brown coal export industry, approval of Victoria’s first off-shore petroleum production license to Origin Energy)
  • Extending the life of ageing and polluting Anglesea and Hazelwood coal mines and power stations (no policy on preventing future mine fires through mine rehabilitation, and no plan to transition from coal)
  • Allowing loggers to continue to log the habitat of threatened species (including the habitat of state animal emblem, the endangered Leadbeater’s (Fairy) Possum)
  • Attempting to abolish energy efficiency targets (at the cost of over 2,000 jobs)
  • Opening up two thirds of the state’s national parks to 99 year lease for commercial development, returning damaging cattle grazing to the Alpine National park
  • Slashing jobs at Parks Victoria and refusing to create a new national park (first Victorian government not to declare a new National Park in over 30 years)
  • Watering down the state’s vegetation clearing laws

Victoria’s economy is based on a healthy environment. Economic modelling by Victoria’s leading businesses shows that adopting policies that restore the state’s natural capital will lead to economic benefits of up to $36 billion and 200,000 additional Victorian jobs by 2028. Without clean air, clean water and quality soils everyday Victorians suffer a reduced quality of life.

The Napthine government has sought to maintain our reliance on polluting coal-fired power at the expense of jobs and investment in the renewable energy industry. This year Victoria experienced one of the state’s worst ever pollution events with the Hazelwood mine fire that raged for 45 days and blanketed the Latrobe Valley in toxic smoke.

The government has allowed ongoing logging in the native forest habitat of the state’s endangered faunal emblem, the Fairy (Leadbeater’s) possum, pushing it closer to extinction.
Our fragile rivers and marine and coastal ecosystems have been ignored and degraded, and are declining in health.

Our protected areas estate has been compromised by decisions that allow damaging activities in our National Parks and resources for management cut.

The Coalition do not have a credible plan to reverse these attacks on Victoria’s environment.

The environment and climate change is a key state government responsibility. Neither of the speeches by Dr. Napthine or Mr. Andrews at their respective party campaign launches mentioned the environment, nature conservation, national parks, climate change or renewable energy.

Victoria cannot afford such indifference, nor can Victorians simply stand by and let the next government ignore and undermine our environment and fuel global warming.

The public agrees. At this election, we have engaged in deep, precise and co-ordinated campaigning in targeted electorates to build a constituency for nature and climate action. The last two years has seen an unprecedented mobilisation by environment groups (see below).

We call on the Coalition to reverse its record of attacks on the environment. And we call on the Labor Opposition to set out a clear plan to safeguard and restore Victoria’s natural environment.

On behalf of our collective supporter base of 200,000 Victorians, we call on all political parties to present serious and credible environment and climate policies to the voting public well before the State Election on November 29th 2014.

Contact

Cam Walker, Campaigns Coordinator, Friends of the Earth - 0419 338 047

Check here to sign our petition to the Coalition.


Background

Victoria’s environment groups in unprecedented state election mobilisation

Victoria’s major environment groups have united for an unprecedented mobilisation of our supporters in the lead up to this November’s state election.

Victoria’s coordinated environment group campaign includes:
 

Environment Victoria
 
  • Deep marginal seat work in electorates of Frankston, Mordialloc, Carrum, and Forest Hill, including mobilisation of over 800 volunteers
  • Weekly door-knocking and stalls, targeting undecided voters in key marginal electorates to elevate status of the environment as an issue this state election
  • Over 4000 people have made a “pledge” to vote for their environment with over 2000 of these in 4 key seats.
  • Opened an election campaign HQ in a shopfront in Frankston from June to December.
  • Ad spend of over $100,000 on billboards, online and newspaper ads in target electorates.
  • Detailed tracking of environment policy commitments of all parties via ‘Policy Watch’, followed by policy scorecard mailed to ‘pledgees’ and 65,000 supporters

 

The Wilderness Society Victoria
  • Raising the profile of logging, forest and wildlife protection in key marginal electorates of Eltham, Monbulk, Bentleigh, Ringwood, Prahran and Ivanhoe.
  • More than 100,00 voters have already received print products about the proposed Great Forest National Park
  • Extensive canvassing at train stations in these areas and in the CBD, and pop-up stalls in busy shopping districts
  • Cinema, online and public transport advertising about the Great Forest National Park
  • Polling in key state seats surveying support for the Great Forest National Park
  • Extensive phone banking of donors and supporters
 
Friends of the Earth
  • Work with 70 communities across regional Victoria opposing new coal and gas developments, with more than 35 communities declaring themselves ‘coal and/or gasfield free.’ The average level of support for declaration has been 95%.
  • More than 4,000 households door-knocked.
  • Deep organising work in regional seats, including Macedon and South West Victoria, to build active support for renewable energy
  • Hosted/ co-hosted more than 100 public forums in regional Victoria over past year

 

Victorian National Parks Association
  • Regular updating our 10,000 supporter and local allies on key issues
  • 20,000 + letter boxing in key electorates
  • Polling of attitudes to national parks and conservation
  • Key community events including Hand off parks, Point Nepean lease, legal action against Alpine cattle grazing, campaign for declaration of Great Forest National Park, better management of national park and natural areas

Victorian attitudes to environment and climate issues

Polling and focus group research by Victoria’s environment groups, as well as public polling, shows that voters care about environmental and climate issues.
Key facts:

  • Essential Research Poll found 76% of Victorians think the State Government has a responsibility to reduce greenhouse pollution, while just 24% think they should leave it to the Federal Government.
  • Essential Research Poll found just 32% of Liberal Party voters think the Coalition’s 2km residential buffer for wind farms is fair.
  • Essential Research Poll found 78% of Victorians support more investment in renewable energy like solar and wind, and just 13% support more coal mines.
  • Crosby Textor polling shows that more than 80 percent of people support the renewable energy target. (http://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/media-centre/media-releases/septemb...)
  •  Essential Research shows that most people accept that climate change is real and caused by human activity, and over half are more concerned about ‘the environmental effects of global warming’ than they were two years ago.( http://essentialvision.com.au/climate-change-concern)
  • Annual Lowy Institute poll shows that concern of climate change as a ‘serious and pressing problem’ has increased by 5 points since last year.  (http://www.lowyinstitute.org/publications/lowy-institute-poll-2014)
  • A poll by Lonergan Research shows that three out of four residents in the key state seat of Monbulk oppose government subsidies for logging in endangered species habitat. (http://www.wilderness.org.au/key-victorian-state-seats-oppose-native-for...)
  • A state-wide poll of 812 people undertaken by Essential Research (October 2014) shows that: 89% of Victorians support Victoria having a comprehensive network of national parks and other conservation reserves across land and sea, 96% recognise the importance of national parks for conserving nature and protecting native wildlife, and 89% support a new park around the Yarra Ranges to protect the Leadbeater’s (Fairy) Possum, water catchment and forests.