The Victorian Greens have called out the state government for its hypocrisy when it comes to significant environmental decisions being made during the COVID-19 crisis.
While decisions to open Victoria to gas drilling and exempt logging from environmental laws seem to have been made quite easily over the past few months, other decisions that would help to protect and restore our environment have been delayed indefinitely.
When questioned by the Greens during today’s PAEC hearings, the Minister was unable to give a rationale for these delays or the very clear anti-environment agenda being forged by the government under the cover of COVID-19.
Important environmental decisions that have been delayed by the government since the crisis began include:
- Under law, in March, the government was meant to respond to the alarming 2018 State of the Environment Report, but has failed to do so.
- The government was meant to agree to 2025 and 2030 emissions reduction targets by March 31, but has yet to do so.
- Under law, the government was required to make an announcement in March about new national parks in Victoria's central west, in response to recommendations from Victoria’s Independent Environment Assessment Council, but has failed to do so.
- Since the beginning of 2019, the government has been stalling on a decision to require coal power stations to install air pollution reduction upgrades. This is vital for protecting the health of the community in the Latrobe Valley.
- The government has delayed the introduction of new EPA laws to protect the health of the community and environment by 12 months.
Despite using COVID-19 as an excuse for delaying all of these decisions, the government was still able to make the decisions to lift the moratorium on onshore gas drilling and sign new Regional Forest Agreements with the federal government to exempt logging from environmental laws.
Under questioning the Minister described this as “balance”.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens spokesperson for environment, Ellen Sandell MP:
"The Andrews Labor Government is using the cover of COVID-19 to delay many important environment decisions - such as new EPA laws, new coal power station controls and new national parks.
“Yet they're able to find time to open Victoria to gas drilling and exempt logging from environment laws.
“This shows that the government is happy to help their fossil fuel mates, but not help the environment.”