“The Budget confirms that the Coalition has abandoned key election promises outlined in its 2010 Energy and Planning policies given they will now not be significantly advanced in this term of government.”
Amongst the key promises that look to be put on the backburner are stepping up the energy efficiency of Victorian homes to a 5 star average, which has been ignored in this and previous budgets.
"This is deeply disappointing given that improving the energy efficiency of Victorian homes would deliver cost savings for households as well as environmental benefits and job creation," Wakeham added.
A pre-election commitment to ensure 5% of the State’s electricity is generated from solar power by 2020 has also been ignored.
According to Wakeham, taxpayers are footing a $4 million bill in the budget to repair failing coal mines in the Latrobe Valley, which would include:
Clean Coal Victoria receiving $8.3 million in new funding in part to run a PR campaign for a technology which doesn’t exist; $19 million to fast-track mining exploration; and $110 million to develop Western Port Bay with a view to establishing a coal export industry.
The Budget papers also confirm significant cuts to departmental spending on environment protection, with an 8.7% cut to the budget for Environmental Protection and Statutory Activities.
Wakeham did acknowledge, however, that there were some useful, if small, areas of new environmental expenditure. Amongst these are:
According to Wakeham "these positives, however, have been undermined by other budgetary allocations to increase hunting and controlled burning which undermine biodiversity protection efforts."
“More impressive is the funding for an Office of Living Victoria which aims to introduce systemic change to the way Victorians use and conserve urban water given the project’s holistic vision.
“Under a new Premier and Treasurer this Budget offered the opportunity to deliver on key environment election commitments made by the Coalition and to turn around the Coalition Government’s poor performance on the environment,” he concluded.