what does the election outcome mean for Victoria's environment?

Environment group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has expressed grave concern at the prospect of the Coalition taking power following yesterday's state election because of its approach to climate change issues.

Check here for all our scorecard assessments of the Parties


Friday 26 November, 2010

Victorian environment in voters’ hands this Saturday

Victoria’s four leading environment groups have published a final assessment of the main parties’ environment policies the day before the state election, saying the next four years will be crucial for deciding the fate of Victoria’s climate, rivers, forests and wildlife.

After a flurry of minor environmental policy announcements during the last week of the campaign, the final scores are Labor 52%, the Coalition 22% and the Greens 93%.

The Coalition picked up 7 points after finally releasing its energy and water policies this week while Labor earned an extra 1.5 points for their parks and environment policy.

Environment Victoria CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said:

“The next state government will hold office for a critical four year window for the environment. Scientists tell us that this is the decade that matters for climate change, for saving the Murray Darling basin, and for protecting our remaining old growth forests. Anyone who aspires to lead the state for this period needs a clear and comprehensive plan for environmental leadership.

“Labor has just scraped through with a pass on the scorecard, with some good environmental policies but not enough to turn things around for our environment. However the Coalition has failed to propose a credible environment and climate change platform. Any party that does not deliver a credible plan to address issues like climate change does not deserve to be in office.


Friends of the Earth Campaigns Coordinator Cam Walker said:

“On the major issue of climate change, most of the Coalition’s policy has been cherry-picked out of the ALP’s Climate White Paper. The few original policy ideas they’ve put forward either won’t have much impact on carbon pollution, or will actually make it harder to develop renewable energy plants.

“The Greens have really moved the debate on climate change forward by offering practical, large scale solutions. Labor has taken some first steps by beginning to act on Hazelwood and supporting large scale solar, however we need solutions that recognise the scale of the problem that we find ourselves in. The Coalition on the other hand has hardly contributed to the debate.

The Wilderness Society’s Victorian Campaigns Manager Gavan McFadzean said:

“Forest protection is one issue where voters face a clear choice between three starkly different policies from the three main parties. The Coalition has promised to intensify native forest logging, Labor will abolish VicForests and support negotiations to find agreement among stakeholders on reducing logging, and The Greens offer immediate protection for old growth forests”.

“The choice that voters make this Saturday will make a real difference to the future of Victoria’s magnificent native forests.

Victorian National Parks Association’s Executive Director Matt Ruchel said:

“The major parties have been a ‘small target’ on conservation policy.  Neither Labor or the Coalition have committed to creating significant new conservation reserves, in fact both parties ruled out even considering further protection of the marine environment or significant increase in funding for management of our natural areas”

“Both major parties nature conservation policies have been piecemeal and scattered, lacking new ideas or vision, and far from what is needed to reverse the decline in our natural habitats, in the most ecologically cleared and stressed state in Australia”.

For comment contact:

Kelly O’Shanassy, EV         0421 054 402

Matt Ruchel, VNPA             0418 357 813

Cam Walker, FoE               0419 338 047

Gavan McFadzean, TWS   0414 754 023

The final scores (November 26):

The full assessment of the Parties is available here.

THIRD VERSION, November 24, 2010

The third version of the scorecard has now been released. The Greens are currently leading, with a score of 93 per cent, Labor has received a number of extra marks since the second assesment and is in second place on 50 per cent, while the Liberal-National Coalition is trailing on 15 per cent.

Below is the summary of where the Parties stand at November 24:

You can find the full Scorecard version 3 here. Correct as at Thursday 18th November .

The minor Parties

Although we have not assessed the minor Parties, both the Country Alliance and Family First stand out as being problematic in terms of their environmental commitments.

Family First

Family First have mostly kept a low profile on the question of renewable energy.
But Family First candidate for Polwarth John Modra says in this weeks Weekly Times  (24/11/10) that his Party is calling for a halt on all new wind farm developments.

Country Alliance

The ALP’s decision to preference the Country Alliance in two Upper House seats is a worrying development when it comes to getting sensible environmental policy in Victoria and significant support for renewable energy.

They are effectively climate skeptics and support the proposal to develop an export industry for Victoria’s dirty brown coal. Their renewable energy policy is effectively an endorsement of our current reliance on coal to meet our energy needs.

There is a longer assessment available here.

SECOND VERSION, 10 November, 2010


Coalition lagging badly on environment

Victoria’s four major environment groups say they are sorely disappointed by the handful of environment policies released by the Victorian Coalition so far in the lead up to the state election.

The groups today released an updated assessment of the environment policies of the three major parties. The Greens have increased their score from 90 to 93 percent and Labor’s score has risen from 45 to 47 percent but the Liberal-National Coalition has fallen a further three percentage points, with a total of just 11 percent.

The Wilderness Society’s Victorian Campaigns Manager Gavan McFadzean said:

"So far the Coalition’s environment policies have failed to address many of our priority policy areas. In particular they have lost ground due to their recent forest policy which announces that logging and woodchipping will intensify and native forests will be effectively converted to eucalypt plantations.”

"2010 is the international year of biodiversity. Going by the policy commitments Labor and Liberal so far, you wouldn't know it. Neither party has grasped the seriousness of the biodiversity crisis in Victoria and urgent need to protect ecosystems and habitat for rare and endangered wildlife."

“The surging Green Party vote is a clear signal that the public want to see the other parties announce strong environment policy in the coming weeks, rather than squabble about preference deals.”

Victorian National Parks Association’s Executive Director Matt Ruchel said:

“Both the ALP and Coalition were marked down due to their policies on the natural environment. The Coalition for its backward policy of re-introducing cattle grazing to the Alpine National Park and the ALP due to its appalling “Pursing the Great Outdoors” policy which threatens to undermine the integrity of our magnificent national park system.”

"However the Liberal Party’s recent announcement that they will retain the Victorian Environment Assessment Council (VEAC) and instruct it to undertake investigations into marine parks and freshwater ecosystems is to be congratulated."

Environment Victoria CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said:

“For the sake of a strong democracy, and for our state’s environment, it’s vital that the alternative government provides a comprehensive, well-thought out set of environmental policies. The environment is no longer an ‘optional extra’ for political parties, it should be core business for all the parties – including the Coalition.”

“In three weeks time Ted Baillieu or John Brumby will be elected Premier for the next four years. The Coalition in particular, but also the ALP, need to get busy releasing further policies to convince voters of their environmental credentials.”

Friends of the Earth Campaigns Coordinator Cam Walker said:

“Although the Coalition supported Brumby’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, they are opposing key measures needed to reach that target such as replacing Hazelwood power station and building new wind farms.”

“Climate change is a grave threat to Victoria, but it also offers opportunities for the growth of a clean energy economy. We hope that the Coalition will deliver a detailed climate change policy in the next three weeks.”

The first environment policy scorecard was released late last month, and the final edition will be announced on the 24th November.

For comment contact:
Kelly O’Shannasy, EV 0421 054 402  Matt Ruchel, VNPA 0418 357 813  Cam Walker, FoE 0419 338 047  Gavan McFadzean, TWS 0414 754 023.
Media assistance: Louise Matthiesson    0417 017 844

Below is the summary of where the Parties stand at November 10:

Check here for the full summaries.


Wednesday 20 October, 2010

Environment policy race on for state election

Victoria’s four major environment groups today released the first of three independent environment policy scorecards in the lead up to November’s state election.

Based on an analysis of public policy announcements to date, and a survey completed by all major parties, The Greens are currently leading with a score of 90 percent, Labor is in second place on 45 percent and the Liberal-National Coalition are trailing on 14 percent.

The assessment was based on the environment groups policy agenda “Turning it Around: A state election agenda to safeguard Victoria’s environment” which was released and sent to all parties in November 2009.

Environment Victoria CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said:

“While its still early in the campaign and parties are yet to release all their election policies, clearly the major parties have a lot of work to do catch up to The Greens. The environment and climate change are key election issues and, as the two contenders to form government in their own right, both Labor and the Coalition will need to have a positive story to tell voters on these issues.

Friends of the Earth Campaigns Coordinator Cam Walker said:

“To improve their score Labor and the Coalition will need to deliver on the key environment issues of the state election, by replacing the whole of Hazelwood power station within the next term of government, and securing water for rivers and the newly created Red Gum National Parks.”

The Wilderness Society’s Victorian Campaigns Manager Gavan McFadzean said:

“On other key issues, The Greens have promised to protect old growth forests and water catchments and create and fund marine parks. To date Labor and the Coalition have failed to grasp these opportunities, but there is still time for them to deliver a strong agenda for the environment.”

Victorian National Parks Association’s Executive Director Matt Ruchel said:

“The environment scorecard is a guide for voters, but ultimately voters will need to make up their own minds on which party has the best policies, but also the ability each party will have to deliver on their promises in the next Parliament. With 4 year fixed terms in Victoria, this election is critical to turn things around for our environment.”

The scorecards are based on both the policy commitments of the parties, and the level of detail provided about how they’ll deliver these commitments for the environment. The scorecard will be advertised today (Wed 20th) in the Knox Weekly Journal, The Melbourne Weekly Times and the Bendigo Advertiser, providing voters with an independent tool to assist them in their decision-making ahead of the election. Repeat advertisements in the same publications will run on the 10th and 22nd of November, when the scorecard will be updated.

For comment contact:
Cam Walker, FoE 0419 338 047, Kelly O’Shannasy, EV 0421 054 402 Matt Ruchel, VNPA 0418 357 813, Gavan McFadzean, TWS 0414 754 023.

Image: Eli Greig

For the full score card and background information, please check here.