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A community response to the recession - a Green 'New Deal' for Victoria?

A proposal for a collaborative and integrated response to the triple crunch of recession, climate change, and peak oil.

A recent poll (1) suggests that while Australians appreciate the bonuses they are getting from the federal government, they are not convinced that they are the way to find our way out of economic recession. Instead they believe that we should be investing in infrastructure.

But there is also a deeper dimension at play here. We are not just facing one crisis. Australia, in common, with the rest of the global economy, is facing a triple crunch of recession, accelerating climate change, and growing energy costs and insecurity. These overlapping phenomena threaten to develop into a 'perfect storm', the like of which has not been seen since the Great Depression.

As jobs are lost at an increasing rate, decisive and visionary action by the state and federal governments is needed to guide us through this gathering storm and to take advantage of the opportunities that these unprecedented events present to us.

A green 'New Deal' for Victoria?

A way forward that is finding support in both Europe and the United States is the idea of a transformational policy program aimed at tackling growing unemployment and declining demand on the scale of Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. This approach involves policies and novel funding mechanisms to substantially reduce the use of fossil fuels while also driving the creation of new 'green collar' jobs. This in turn will help us tackle climate change and cope with the energy shortages likely to be caused by peak oil in coming years.

We stand at a pivotal moment in history. To prevent catastrophic climate change we must ensure the global temperature does not rise by more than 2 degrees centigrade above pre ‐industrial levels.

At the same time we are facing one of the deepest and most severe recessions the world has known, plunging millions into poverty.

Yet these two crises share common roots. A world addicted to fossil fuel, driven by an ideological obsession with letting the market rule has led to economic and environmental breakdown.

These threats are also a major opportunity for our society, and rather than looking for a quick fix that creates some jobs and encourages spending, we must not miss this opportunity to restructure our economy to:

● build resilience to survive the coming changes of global warming and the end of cheap fuel,

● a 'steady state' economy, where the human economy has ceased to grow, but remains at a healthy, sustainable level.

The bushfires that devastated much of Victoria over the past summer have, and will, lead to considerable changes in how and where we build in fire prone areas. We should ensure that the response to bushfire is fully integrated into a broader response which deals with the recession and builds resilience in the face of climate change.

None of us are as smart as all of us ....

Friends of the Earth has written a discussion paper on these issues. We realise there is a vast depth of good thinking in the community about how to respond to the interlinked threats of recession, climate change and the end of cheap oil. We have launched this paper via a blog, in the hope that others in the community will feel inspired to send their thoughts and suggestions about how to deal with the coming crisis. Ideas and suggestions will be compiled into what we hope will be a compelling document that will argue for the need for a profound and deeply thoughtful response to the challenges we face - individually and collectively.

We would welcome your involvement in creating a broadly supported vision of transformation for Victoria.

It is available at:


We would appreciate feedback by monday May 18 to allow us to incorporate it into the final report.

(1) 'Mind and Mood' report, Ipsos MacKay, April 2009

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