Victorian Budget Response 2019

Friends of the Earth's Victorian Budget Response

MEDIA RELEASE: 27 May 2019

Andrews govt budget delivers for solar homes, now to deliver for climate action across the economy

Environment group Friends of the Earth welcomes the Andrews government’s funding for the $1.3 billion Solar Homes program and says the $545 million down payment creates a platform for a heavy lift on climate action.

“The Andrews government’s 2019/20 budget delivers for solar and creates a platform upon which it can deliver ambitious action on climate,” said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth spokesperson.

“With the re-election of the Federal Coalition government, now more than ever Victoria must show leadership on climate change and a just transition.”

The Andrews Labor government must set interim Emissions Reduction Targets by 31 March 2020, release a Climate Strategy the same year, and roll out adaptation plans from 2021.

“A big funding boost is needed to ensure Victoria's efforts to tackle the climate crisis get traction,” said Leigh Ewbank.

“When it comes to tackling climate change, the rubber hits the road at the state level.”

“The community is looking to the Labor government to have vision when it comes to reining in emissions and protecting communities from climate impacts.”

While the government’s investment in solar is a positive outcome for climate action, a shift is still needed in transport.

Budget 2019/20 includes new investment in public transport and active transport, however it is dwarfed by investment in he controversial North East Link toll road.

“New investment in public transport and active transport is welcome, yet it is dwarfed by $15.8 billion for the controversial North East Link toll road,” said Rachel Lynskey, FoE Sustainable Cities spokesperson.

“Roads will receive twice as much funding as public transport. A budget with a strong focus on climate action would correct this imbalance as quickly as possible.”

Friends of the Earth says investing in the construction of Melbourne Metro 2 is the best option for the Labor government to deliver a secure pipeline of jobs and improve public transport in the medium term. The group says it is the logical next step once Melbourne Metro 1 is completed.

Friends of the Earth will launch a campaign for the Andrews government to deliver Victoria’s first Climate Budget later in 2019.

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH BUDGET 2019/20 ANALYSIS:

Responding to the Climate Crisis:

Budget 2019/20 invests $2 million towards the Victorian government’s Climate Strategy that must be released in late 2020.

No new funding was available to the government’s over-subscribed $4.8 million Climate Change Innovation Partnerships grant scheme. Just one in ten projects received funding from the popular scheme announced in early 2018.

“A greater level of investment is needed to supercharge Victoria’s response to the climate crisis. We need to see a down payment towards a zero-carbon economy,” said Leigh Ewbank, FoE climate spokesperson.

Public Transport & Active Transport:

Budget 2019/20 allocates $3.4 billion towards upgrades to the Sunbury, Cranbourne, and Hurstbridge trainlines; $49 million for three new train stations around Bendigo; $205.1 million to increase train and bus services; $162.8 million for 10 new e-class trams; as well as $111 million for training drivers.

Some $100 million is allocated towards the Western Rail Plan with an additional $300 million for planning the Suburban Rail Loop and Airport Link.

While the new investment in public transport and active transport is welcome it is dwarfed by $15.8 billion for the controversial North East Link toll road. Roads will receive twice as much funding as public transport.

“New investment in public transport and active transport is welcome, yet the gulf between historic investment in roads over public transport remains,” said Rachel Lynskey, FoE Sustainable Cities spokesperson.

“A budget with a strong focus on climate action would correct this imbalance as quickly as possible. Investing in the contruction of Melbourne Metro 2 is the best option for the government to deliver a secure pipeline of jobs and improve Public Transport for city.”

Renewable Energy Initiatives:

Budget 2019/20 includes $545 million down payment on the Solar Homes program which aims to bring the number of solar homes in the state to one million.

In terms of community energy, the Labor government will invest $1 million towards the Fully Renewable Newstead project. A 10 megawatt solar farm will help the town achieve 100 percent renewable energy.

The budget is light on the detail when it comes to the level of investment needed to bring new renewable energy capacity online to meet the Victorian Renewable Energy Targets (of 25% by 2020, 40% by 2025, and 50% by 2030).

No new money was allocated towards the New Energy Jobs Fund.

The budget did not include funding for repowering Melbourne’s rail network with renewable energy.

“Friends of the Earth and community members will continue to push for the government to repower Melbourne’s train network with renewable energy,” said Pat Simons.

“Repowering the train network is a win-win: It would make headway to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in transport while creating new renewable energy jobs.”

Investing in the Just Transition:

Budget 2019/20 did not include new funding for the Latrobe Valley Authority. The authority’s funding is secure until July 2020. Friends of the Earth will continue to encourage the Labor government to invest in the LVA to ensure a just transition for the community.

“Friends of the Earth will continue to encourage the state government to invest in Latrobe Valley Authority,” said Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth campaigns coordinator. ’

“Budget 2020 could be the moment to build on the authority’s success and expand its brief to the whole state with a devoted minister for transition.”