Walker on the Baillieu govt’s environment policy

Friends of the Earth campaigns coordinator Cam Walker shares some thoughts on Josh Gordon’s recent report on the Baillieu government’s environment policy at The Age:

What a great expose by Josh Gordon on the failings of the Baillieu government on environmental issues (‘Emperor’s new policy‘, 20/9/12).

The only positive environmental initiative to date from the government has been the moratorium on the process of fracking. This grew from the community backlash happening in National Party held seats in Gippsland, and marks a new form of environmental activism in Victoria: one where environmental groups and farming communities are finding common cause over new coal and gas proposals. This movement will not be satisfied by a short term ban, given that exploration can continue, and the government has not backed away from its support for new coal developments.

While the government did have a wind policy prior to the 2010 election, this was only tested with voters in rural seats, where it arguably disappeared without trace. The ALP held a grouping of seats in the epicentre of ‘wind country’ west of Melbourne, despite a strong campaign by anti-wind groups. And while it claims to have consulted widely in framing the policy, the government refuses to explain how or where this consultation occurred, and apparently failed to do an impact assessment of the impacts in regional Victoria should the policy be enacted. When a government decides to intervene in an industry in a way which is likely to have a significant impact on employment in that sector, it is standard practise to investigate the impacts and plan for transition, as happened when native logging was halted in the Otway Ranges.

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that Mr Baillieu allowed his dislike of wind energy to over ride good planning procedures, hardly an encouraging sign for a community that does want action on environment and climate change.


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