A report into the environmental performance of the Andrews Government in their first year in office finds modest but slow progress in implementing election promises and developing a leadership agenda on the environment.
The report, entitled ‘Envirowatch: One Year In’ was prepared by Environment Victoria and tracks the delivery of the Andrew Government’s environmental election promises. The report finds that of 25 environmental promises made ahead of the election, 8 have been implemented in full, while 17 are still in progress.
Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham said today:
“It’s been a mixed track record on the environment from the Andrews Government, with some bright spots but a lot of unfinished business. The overall theme is that we are concerned that they are moving too slowly to deliver for our environment.
“There has been important progress to reverse some of the previous Coalition Government’s most reckless attacks on the environment including wind farm bans, commercialisation of National Parks and plans to scrap the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target. These are welcome developments, but now it’s time to develop a proactive agenda for the environment.”
Since the 2014 Victorian election, the Premier and key Ministers have publicly stated their ambitions to be leaders on the environment and climate change. A large number of policy areas relating to climate change, water, forests and biodiversity are currently under government review.
“We are starting to get frustrated that promised renewable energy and energy efficiency strategies, and an election commitment to deliver a plan to improve the health of rivers and riparian areas remain works in progress after a year in government,” said Mr Wakeham.
“Meanwhile reviews of the state’s policy agenda to tackle climate change are only in the early stages of development and the state has no plan to phase out the oldest and dirtiest power stations which are Victoria’s biggest source of greenhouse pollution.”
While the Andrews Government’s efforts on the environment have mostly been positive if slow, two areas have been particularly disappointing. The approval of new coal mining exploration licences in Gippsland, and the Victorian Government’s support for national weakening of the Murray Darling Basin Plan demonstrate a gap between the talk of environmental leadership and decisions that are being made by this government.
“More positively, we’ve seen that the Andrews Government can see the opportunities in clean energy and environmental restoration. The decision to strengthen the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target will help the environment, create jobs and save Victorians money. The challenge now is to make more policy decisions ahead of the May state budget so actions can be delivered in 2016.”
The first anniversary of the Andrews Government coincides with the start of the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris beginning on 29 November 2015, and the Peoples Climate March in Melbourne on 27 November.
“In Paris, subnational governments from around the world will be making commitments to cut greenhouse pollution and fast-track clean energy,” said Mr Wakeham.
“Premier Andrews could celebrate his government’s first anniversary and join international leaders by announcing significant new initiatives to reduce greenhouse pollution and protect Victoria’s unique natural environment.
“We remain optimistic that the Andrews Government will be the leaders on the environment and global warming that Victorians want and need, but there is no time to waste and year two needs to be much more productive than year one.”
Read Envirowatch : One year in (PDF)