01 December, 2013

Victorian government report card. How is Denis Napthine performing - ENVIRONMENT

Tom Arup
The Age, 20/11/2013


The Coalition's environmental agenda has been defined by never really having one. No formal platform was taken to the 2010 election, allowing the government to freelance ever since.

Environment Minister Ryan Smith has largely plugged away at low-profile recycling and waste issues, while Water Minister Peter Walsh has made significant investments in storm water harvesting and water recycling.

Eventually a list of environmental priorities was quietly released. But much more has been dismantled. Almost all the state's climate change policies were scrapped and, controversially, cattle grazing was reintroduced to the Alpine National Park, only to be stopped by the Commonwealth.

A new allocation of brown coal is on the table. Firewood collection laws have been loosened; prohibitive wind farm restrictions have been introduced; and national parks opened up for private tourism development. The government has also faced rising community concern about the survival of state's animal emblem - the Leadbeater's possum. An election commitment to increase the average energy efficiency rating of all Victorian homes to five stars has not been seriously acted on.

Ultimately the Coalition has decided concern for the environment is not strong enough in the electorate to swing significant votes.

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