*Embargoed until Friday 27 November, 2009*
A healthy environment and a safe future for all Victorians must be the top priority for all parties contesting the 2010 State Election, Victoriaâ€™s leading environment groups said today.
One year out from the state election, Environment Victoria, The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth and the Victorian National Parks Association have released a document outlining seven key areas that require urgent action by the party that wins next Novemberâ€™s state election.
The groups said all parties needed to reassess their approach to the environment, including the Brumby Government who is yet to initiate any major environmental initiatives, and the Liberal Party whose environment policies are alarmingly inconsistent.
â€œVictoria'sÂ environment has supportedÂ communities for thousands of years andÂ is home to some of the most important places and species in the world. Â But the simple truth is, weâ€™reÂ facingÂ an environmental emergency,â€ Environment Victoriaâ€™s CEO Kelly Oâ€™Shanassy said.
â€œOur riversÂ run dry as greenhouse emissions rise. Our forestsÂ shrink while our cities sprawl. And we swelter through heatwaves that Victoria has never experienced before â€“ this is not the future we want.â€
The Victorian National Parkâ€™s Associationâ€™s Executive Director Matt Ruchel said for decades, successive governments had overseen the decline of the stateâ€™s environment and it was time for change.
â€œOur natural heritage is priceless and our political leaders need to take urgent and large scale action to ensure Victorians have jobs, industries, homes and lives that help restore nature and secure our future.â€
Recent research by Sustainability Victoria showed that 89 per cent of Victorians agreed the government should consider environmental concerns when making decisions.
â€œMajor parties are failing to meet the Victorian publicâ€™s expectations for a safe, clean and secure environment. Itâ€™s time for political leaders of all persuasions to put the environment at the centre of government policy and decisions,â€ Friends of the Earthâ€™s campaign coordinator Cam Walker said.
The Wilderness Societyâ€™s Campaignâ€™s Director Gavan McFadzean said there was still hope for the environment.
â€œThe 2010 State Election must be the turning point for Victoriaâ€™s environment. If we take strong and decisive action now, we can fix our mistakes and create a healthy, prosperous, and sustainable future,â€ he said.
â€œOne year out, all parties contesting the 2010 election are on notice. We are seeking clear commitments on the most critical environmental issues facing the state in the lead up to next yearâ€™s state election.â€
Victoriaâ€™s leading environment groups are calling on all parties contesting the 2010 State Election to:
1.Â Â Â Make sustainability central to all government decision-making
2.Â Â Â Slash Victoriaâ€™s greenhouse gas emissions and switch to a low-emissions economy
3.Â Â Â Restore our rivers and wetlands to health
4.Â Â Â Protect biodiversity by managing and restoring ecosystems and re-linking areas of habitat
5.Â Â Â Increase and resource the protected areas system
6.Â Â Â Protect our native forests
7.Â Â Â Make our cities more sustainable and liveable
The environment groupsâ€™ agenda contains more than 80 specific policy proposals or opportunities for action. The groups will meet with parties and use the agenda as a basis to assess partiesâ€™ promises over the next 12 months.
To arrange interviews, contact: Sacha Myers, joint media officer, on 0417 017 844.
The report Turning it around can be found here.