A return to slash and burn for Victoria’s environment
The Victorian Government has been extremely slow to do much at all that requires legislative changes. But it has been very quick to do as much as it can to undo many of the hard won initiatives like those to protect the diverse ecosystems in Victoria and to increase investment in renewable energy projects.
It would appear that there are clear differences between the ‘policies’ offered up by the Liberals and the reality. Far from being interested in protecting the environment, the Liberal government allowed for the reintroduction of cattle into the high country. And this was done under the pretence of being for research. As yet the proposed research has not been explained with little-to-no details available.
While the federal government’s intervention to have the cattle removed is an excellent outcome, I seriously doubt it will stop the Nationals from returning them next ‘season’. And sticking to the claims of the cattle destroying sensitive and unique ecological systems being done in the name of research.
Then there’s the frontal assault on our water supply.
Recklessly, the new Victorian Government has maintained the easing in water restrictions. And, despite the alternatives on offer, will press ahead with the construction and commissioning of the desalination plant in south Gippsland. There still persists the rumours that Western Metropolitan MP, Bernie Finn (Liberal) continues to push for the damming (or damning if you will) of the Maribyrnong river.
Then there’s the damage being done to the Victorian economy because of the de-investment in renewable energy. Measures that would help reduce Victoria’s reliance on burning fossil fuels are being shut down. This goes on as communities in Geelong and the LaTrobe Valley consider alternative means of generating good, decent jobs and keeping their communities vibrant as the world moves to lower pollution economies.
It wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if the Baillieu Government were to cancel the Mildura solar energy plant project.
Yet we hear the ‘doom and gloom’ of the state budget. Like all new governments they’re crying poor; finding massive budget shortfalls and over-runs. But with a state that is going pretty sweet and less of a basket case (in more ways than one) than what O’Farrell has inherited, Baillieu shouldn’t be looking to immediately ‘slash and burn’.
And now with the Government’s first budget handed down there was more bad news for the environment. The unquestioned disinvestment in renewable energy research, development and commercialisation will hurt the Victorian economy and risks placing the state further behind in addressing greenhouse gas emissions. Then there’s the continued support for roads with $601mil over public transport with $369mil.
Baillieu and [Kim] Wells (the state’s treasurer) have delivered a doubling of the state’s debts without easing the real burden on most households despite the positive noises coming from some organisations in the state’s welfare non-government and community organisations. And delivering an increase in debt just a week before the federal government is expected to hand down a ‘harsh’ budget.
One has to question the logic behind the politics and the strategy of the Liberal Party.
Why wouldn’t the Victorian government try to make themselves look like they care by easing the woes of the federal government’s ‘harsh’ budget?
However, there remains little critique of the government’s environmental approach and an unwillingness to challenge their on-going dismantling of hard won advances in protecting more of Victoria’s precious and unique eco-systems.