On Wednesday 10 April, Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture, Regional Development, and Resources Jaclyn Symes gave her inaugural address to the Rural Press Club.
Friends of the Earth’s Act on Climate collective was there to see how climate change would feature in the minister’s address. As it turns out, it was high on the agenda.
"We know that while there are parts of rural and regional Victoria doing well, there are other areas who are doing it tough," said Minister Symes.
"This is most prevalent in those areas dealing with drought and dry conditions… And that’s why climate change and drought are driving a lot of my thinking."
"It’s these factors that require me to not only think about my role over the next four years but helping our farmers and their communities set themselves up for the next forty years."
Elaborating on the impacts of climate change in Victoria, Minister Symes noted farming communities had seen drought, fire, flood, storm damage and frost in recent years and said she was “truly shocked” to see the impacts of drought in East Gippsland.
After a confronting summer in which we have seen record-breaking heatwaves across the continent and damaging bushfires in Victoria, community members are looking for governments to show leadership to tackle the climate crisis.
Australia's emissions are on the rise due to the Federal Coalition's failure to act on climate. But Victoria has an opportunity to put the country back on track.
The process for setting Victoria's first interim Emissions Reduction Targets has kicked off again. The Andrews government has just received independent expert advice on emissions cuts. Now they need to hear from the community.
Email Premier Daniel Andrews and key Cabinet Ministers today to put climate action on the top of their agenda. We need them to pay careful attention to the panel's recommendations and the consequences of failure.
Let's remind the government that the most important responsibility they have is to ensure a safe climate and healthy environment for children and the generations that come after us.
The Andrews Labor government has announced a $1 million Community Climate Change Adaptation Grants program for regional Victoria, yet Friends of the Earth says the allocation "falls short of community demand."
"Every dollar the state government spends to help communities respond to climate change is a wise investment," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth climate spokesperson.
"Yet Victorian communities will need much more then $1 million to cope with the impacts of climate change."
The Federal Coalition government's failure on climate change has seen the country's emissions increase for three consecutive years. This failure leaves Victorian communities exposed to intensifying droughts, heatwaves, bushfires, rising seas, and extreme weather.
Regional Victoria is already experiencing climate impacts. For example, Cape Conran saw a winter bushfire last year and community members have sounded the alarm over the impact of rising sea levels in Apollo Bay and Inverloch.
"With the Federal Coalition failing to act on climate change, we need to see greater leadership from Premier Daniel Andrews and the Labor government."Read more
Friends of the Earth have welcomed the reappointment of Lily D’Ambrosio as Minister for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change, saying a steady hand will guide policy in Victoria while policy chaos continues at the Federal level.
“The reappointment of Lily D’Ambrosio as the minister for climate change and energy is good news for efforts to tackle climate change,” said Leigh Ewbank, FoE climate change spokesperson.
“With climate and energy policy chaos continuing at the Federal level under the Coalition, a steady hand is needed in Victoria to rein in emissions and help Australia meet its international commitments."
Friends of the Earth and the local Ararat Greenhouse Action Group have criticised Liberal MP for Ripon Louise Staley's contradictory position on climate change.
When Ms Staley was asked about whether she accepts climate change science and her party's policy at the Victorian Farmers Federation's candidates forum in late October, Ms Staley stated:
"Yes I do" accept the science of climate change before adding, "I do not support a Victorian renewable energy target. We will abolish that if we come into government."
Friends of the Earth's climate change spokesperson Leigh Ewbank said Louise Staley's acceptance of climate science was welcome, yet said she must be judged on her track record and Liberal party's platform.
"Saying you accept the science of climate change is one thing, yet the true test of Louise Staley's commitment is her voting record and party's platform," said Leigh Ewbank.
"If Louise Staley shared the community's concern about climate impacts then she wouldn't have voted against strengthening Victoria's Climate Change Act and certainly wouldn't scrap the Victorian Renewable Energy Target."
"People are sick and tired of politicians saying one thing and doing another on big issues like climate change."
Matthew Guy and the Victorian Coalition announced their intention to build a new ‘baseload’ 500 MW power station if elected at the November state election.
Friends of the Earth say the Liberal party's decision to release an energy policy open to new gas and coal power fails the climate change test when renewable energy is the best option to cut emissions and deliver cheaper power for Victorians.
“We are pleased that the Coalition has finally released its full energy policy. But they have let the Victorian people down by proposing a policy which could have come from the 1950s,” said Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth.
“The energy of the future is renewable. It is extraordinary that the Coalition still intends to overturn the VRET – the state renewable energy target which is driving the uptake of renewables while creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment.Read more
On Saturday 10 November, around 100 community members have formed a human sign in the shape of the Liberal Party logo on St Kilda Beach to mock Matthew Guy and the opposition’s head-in-the-sand approach to climate change by doing just that: putting their heads in the sand.
Community members concerned about climate change are deeply frustrated that the opposition has failed to deliver a climate policy, with Victoria less then two weeks away from a state election.
"Despite having had four years to come up with a comprehensive policy, Matthew Guy and the Liberal opposition have no plan to rein in emissions and protect Victorian communities from climate impacts if elected on November 24," said Act on Climate spokesperson Anna Langford.
Community members are getting organised and making sure political candidates are engaging with the challenge of climate change in the lead up to the Victorian state election. Melissa Abel, a community climate champion from Bendigo, reports on a recent candidates forum in her region:
In the lead up to the state election at the end of next month, our Australian Conservation Foundation community group in Bendigo have been running a series of “Politics in the Pub” events with our local politicians and candidates, focusing on one party at a time. Bendigo is covered by two state electorates – Bendigo East and Bendigo West, and so we've at times had candidates from both. So far we've had Labor, the Greens and the Liberals.
We are yet to lock in a date with the Nationals, but they – perhaps surprisingly, given the topic of climate change – appear keen so far. As a side note, I asked our Nationals candidate at a different forum why they want to scrap Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) and was told that they don't want to see a “piecemeal, state-by-state” approach to energy policy. Call me cycnical, but to me that looks like an attempt to tear down the states that are actually attempting to do something about climate change...Read more
With a few new people joining the campaign, Leigh takes the chance to give an overview of the goals of the campaign. Great short listen this week.
Originally published at RenewEconomy.
Victoria will go to the polls in a month and the Liberal National Party opposition, led by Matthew Guy, has failed to release a comprehensive climate change policy.
Pressure is mounting on Matthew Guy to show he takes climate change seriously.
Activists in detective costumes have staged actions to search for Matthew Guy’s missing climate policy. In the blue-ribbon seats of Hawthorn and Kew, the Lighter Footprints community group is organising a town hall meeting (featuring Oliver Yates) on the need for climate action.
And then there’s the Wentworth by-election result where the Liberal party suffered a record swing against it.
While Wentworth voters were clearly upset at the Federal Coalition’s leadership turmoil and had a strong independent candidate to vote for, exit polling commissioned by the Australia Institute found that the Liberal party’s primary vote collapsed as a result of inaction on climate change and support for coal.
The same dynamic could play out in Victoria. The opposition’s failure to engage with climate change leaves it exposed.Read more