Adjournment- Budget

2 May 2019

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My adjournment matter is for the Treasurer, and the action I seek is to make the upcoming state budget a multibillion-dollar climate and environment budget: to plan to stop burning coal and gas by 2030; to end the waste crisis; and to protect and restore our natural environment—and to fund it by using the half a billion dollars that is sitting unspent in the Sustainability Fund and getting those industries that are making super profits, like the banks and developers, to pay more. This government has had budgets that have focused on education, infrastructure and even law and order, but it has never had a budget that has put protecting our environment at its heart with the dollars to back it up, and now more than ever is the time to do it. As I said to the Premier earlier this week, half of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from our coal-fired power stations. If you do not have a plan for getting out of coal, you do not have a serious plan for climate change.

This government should use the upcoming state budget to end its support for new fossil fuel projects like onshore gas exploration, like the offshore gas exploration it is planning in the Otway Basin, like its coal-to-hydrogen projects, and like this massive, massive gas import terminal in Western Port Bay where I grew up. It needs to put an end to this waste crisis which we all saw coming with the change in China’s policy. Now is the time to create that circular economy; develop the local recycling industry; implement that ban on plastic bags and extend it to unnecessary plastics; and get on board and support a container deposit scheme. Victoria is now the only mainland state not supporting a container deposit scheme, despite the overwhelming public support. Finally, now is the time to not just protect but to restore our environment by ending the logging of our native forests, not by opening up another 45 000 hectares to cut down, as they just have. Protect our forests—these massive carbon stores that need to be retained to protect us against climate change—and create new national parks in the great forest national park in the Central Highlands and the Emerald Link in Gippsland.

The Treasurer has been saying there is a revenue shortfall and he is going to have to make some tough decisions on public sector wages. This highlights the unsustainability of our reliance on stamp duty. As I said, there is money sitting in the Sustainability Fund unspent. We have got developers making windfall profits on land rezoning. They should be paying tax on those profits, and we could put a levy on the big banks for Victoria’s share of liabilities. This would raise billions over the forward estimates. I would urge the government to use the upcoming state budget to put protecting Victoria’s future and our environment at its heart.

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