Victoria: A state that works for people, climate, environment, and economy

In 12 months time Victorians will head to the polls. With community concern about climate change on the rise, it's an issue that all political parties must must address in detail.

Our state is undergoing profound change as the population grows, entire industries go to the wall, and climate change starts to really impact on our landscapes, economy and lifestyles. Yet Melbourne continues to sprawl, as low density development covers valuable farmland and remnant vegetation, supported by transport infrastructure that will perpetuate our current reliance on cars.

An election provides all parties with the opportunity to demonstrate leadership on the interconnected issues of climate, energy, social justice, and the economy.

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Friends of the Earth understands that good environmental decision making and policy should be based on social justice principles. The solutions we propose will build sustainability, reduce resource consumption and the creation of greenhouse pollution, create new – and good – jobs in new and emerging sectors, and increase social cohesion and equity.

“We are in a race against time to stabilise the climate. The impacts on peoples’ lives, livelihoods and prosperity, if we fail to act now, will be calamitous.  We can lose the battle on climate change, with horrendous consequences for all working people and their communities or we can act now to secure a stable climate with decent work for all, prosperity, and development”.

Alison Tate, Director of Economic and Social Policy, ITUC

“Far too often the interests of workers and environmentalists have been pitched against each other, when fundamentally we share the need for a liveable planet and societies based on environmental, social and economic justice.”

Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth International

We offer the following proposals to all political parties. If enacted they would provide significant protections to the natural environment while helping to set our state on a more sustainable footing, with an economy which is ready for the inevitable changes that are already locked in through previous greenhouse pollution.


CLimate and Energy Justice


The state election provides an opportunity for all parties to announce ambitious new policies and funding that will see the state act decisively on climate change, and boost the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

It is essential that the Victorian Government continues its leadership role in opposing the federal Coalition’s ‘war on renewables’. The Victorian Coalition must adopt an energy policy that is based on climate science.

With the rebuild of the Climate Change Act, the safe passage of the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) through parliament and the start of auctions process for renewable energy, it essential that the state government – regardless of who is in power - continue to implement an ambitious climate change agenda.

As the problems with aging coal fired power stations demonstrate - the existing power supply in our state is not fit to task in a state with a growing population in a time of climate change. Apart from embracing renewable energy, Victoria should become a leader in energy storage.


We call on all political parties to support the following measures.

  • Commit to deliver Victoria's first climate change-focused state budget that increases investment in solutions, brings transparency to budget allocations, and accounts for impact of climate change on state finances.

  • Announce emissions reduction targets (ERTs) for 2025 and 2030 that are more ambitious than the Turnbull government’s and make a meaningful contribution to limit overall global warming to 1.5 degrees.

  • Commit to maintaining the Climate Change Act in its current form.

  • Set a more ambitious VRET target for 2025 (currently 40%), including setting a percentage of new renewables which must be built in or near the Latrobe Valley. We urge the state government to also announce a target for 2030.

  • Maintain the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling.

  • Victoria should be a national leader in energy storage. All parties should commit to providing funding for the development of energy storage in the state.


 Land and Water


We call on all political parties to support the following measures.

  • Support the creation of the Great Forest National Park in their election platform. In the case of the government, it must have initiated a VEAC investigation which can be completed with sufficient time for an outcome before November 2018.

  • Commit to creating East Gippsland's Emerald Link, which will connect existing parks and reserves to establish a continuous network of protected areas form the Australian alps to the East Gippsland coast.

  • There should be no further renewals or extensions of Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). The RFAs should be scrapped and the Victorian government should refer logging plans to be assessed under federal environment law.

  • Strengthen regulation of VicForests to achieve more effective enforcement of the code of practice for timber production and implementation of protections for environmental values such as rainforest and threatened species in state forests.

  • Commit to enacting a statewide onshore gas infrastructure rehabilitation program during the first 12 months of next term in government

  • Commit to appointing an independent expert to work alongside communities and the resource minister’s office to review the Mining (MRSD) and Petroleum Acts in regards to better practise rehabilitation, adequate bonds for mining operations, timeframes around rehabilitation, and reforming the Acts to include community participation.


A world class park system for Melbourne

Melbourne keeps growing and is becoming ever more congested and crowded. If we want to keep our ‘liveable city’ tag we need to keep improving public transport and services, especially in fringe areas, while ensuring there is sensible and sensitive infill and increased density along key public transport lines.

It is also essential that we create breathing space for the ever growing population of Melbourne.

Parties should declare a package of new parks which will future proof the development of Melbourne through completing the reserve system around the city, ensuring current and future populations have access to clean air, recreational opportunities, and wild nature. Elements of this package are drawn from the VNPA proposals for the 2018 election and include:

  • the Great Forest National Park (mentioned above)
  • the western grasslands reserve (native grasslands are the most threatened ecosystem in the state)
  • the Point Nepean marine national park
  • the Moolap Park (near Point Henry)
  • Port Phillip wetland parks
  • the Northern Westernport Park (near Tooradin)
  • the ‘Natural Melbourne’ Plan (which would add to the existing metro parks/open space network)
  • protecting open space along the Merri Creek in Fawkner

These all provide opportunities for a range of recreational activities, room for some job creation (eg long distance walking trails, bike paths, park management, construction of infrastructure, fire and weed management, etc) and would help to increase social equality – most communities in Melbourne will benefit from this combined package in terms of access to new parks and open space.


Sustainable Cities


After power stations, cities (including transport) are the largest contributors to the state’s greenhouse pollution. We need to re design Melbourne and regional centres to be smarter, less dependent on cars, with much better public transport. There will be environmental, economic and health and social benefits of such a transition. Budget allocations by the state government need to help drive the required transition.


We call on all political parties to support the following measures.

  • shift the balance of public funding away from major roads and towards public transport in the 2018/19 state budget. There should be no budget funding for new major roads projects. The government should commence Melbourne Metro 2 planning

  • Parties should commit to new funding initiatives which will help alleviate congestion and provide additional services but do not require additional infrastructure – such as the ‘Smarter Bus’ proposal.


Transforming the economy


The Victorian economy continues to undergo profound change, shown by the recent final closure of the domestic car manufacturing industry. The state government has shown a willingness to intervene to protect jobs through initiatives like creating the Latrobe Valley Authority and investing in the Heyfield saw mill. But many thousands of Victorian people work in industries that are already in transition, and who must be supported through active government intervention. The closure of the Hazelwood power station because of a decision taken by the French owner highlights the need for a plan to ensure an orderly transition away from the state’s current reliance on coal to one reliant on renewables and storage.

Equally a plan is required to modernise the state’s logging industry if it is to survive the reality of a rapidly declining resource in the state forests.  The current forestry model is not sustainable and simply attempting to prop it up for a few more years by increasing access to native forests is not a viable option.


We call on all political parties to support the following measures.

  • allocate substantial funds (minimum $80m per year) for economic transition and diversification projects in the Latrobe Valley

  • commit no further public funding or support for new coal technologies (including experimental coal to gas and coal-to-fertiliser, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) programs         

  • develop - as a matter of urgency - a plan for a rapid transition of the native forest industry onto a diversified footing, which would rely on plantation timber, non tree sources of fibre for pulp and sustainably logged, small volume forestry operations on public lands


Help us build pressure on all parties

Get active:

Say no to the Westgate Tunnel

Show your support for the creation of the Great Forest National Park, the Emerald Link reserve in East Gippsland, and a transition plan for the native forests industry

Please consider getting involved in our campaign efforts in the build up to the state election - you can find out about volunteering here.

Please consider donating some funds here.


Authorised by Cam Walker, 312 Smith St, Collingwood, VIC.