The Victorian Greens have welcomed the state government’s ‘cleaning blitz’ initiative but say that more jobs will need to be created to protect people and the environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today the Minister for Water announced that 110 jobs would be created as part of the government’s $500 million Working for Victoria fund to clean up litter, remove weeds and help make our rivers and creeks more beautiful.
However, given Victoria’s unemployment rate is at its highest in more than 20 years, the Greens want to see more jobs created to support Victorians that have found themselves out-of-work.
The Greens say investing in a ‘BushCare Blitz’ and planting ten million trees across the state would create 11,000 jobs and help to restore our bushfire-ravaged environment.
The Greens’ plan for a BushCare Jobs Blitz would include:
- A large-scale weeding and invasive species eradication program across bushfire-affected public land in Victoria, employing thousands of young people temporarily, and creating new permanent positions in the public service. This would include an expansion of Parks Victoria’s seasonal workforce at a critical time when youth unemployment is spiking.
- Planting 500,000 trees a year over the next ten years in streets, parks and along creek-beds across greater Melbourne. The program would fund the existing ‘Resilient Melbourne’ plan which has a target of 40 per cent canopy cover for Greater Melbourne, but which hasn’t yet been funded by the Victorian Government.
- Planting 500,000 trees a year over the next ten years on private and state-Government-owned land, especially in bushfire-damaged areas, to create jobs for young people and restore our damaged environment.
- A huge program of fencing rivers to keep out stock and keep waterways healthy. This successful program is about to run out of Victorian Government funding, risking jobs and the environment.
- More government funding for research into conservation science, helping to keep jobs in our struggling universities.
Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said that while the government had gone some way towards creating shovel ready projects for Victorians, the past summer’s bushfires and the current pandemic required a more ambitious response.
A recent report published by the World Economic Forum found that a nature-led response to COVID-19 could create 400 million jobs worldwide and $10 trillion in business value each year by 2030.
Quotes attributable to Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:
“Victoria has been hit with two devastating blows: first the bushfires, and now the economic fallout from COVID-19.
“The Victorian Government wants to create 100 jobs in cleaning up city creeks and rivers. It’s an okay start, but adopting our BushCare plan would create 100 times as many jobs right across the whole of Victoria. That’s what we need.
“It’s a win-win-win: creating jobs, restoring our environment and helping bushfire-ravaged communities.”