A lack of foresight will cost the Victorian Coalition government.
The Victorian Coalition Government has gotten itself into so much hot water that it's hard to see them winning an election come November, and I'm amazed that they can't see the writing on the wall.
This tweet appeared yesterday, and has had more than 200 retweets. It's gone viral.
You may well wonder why the Victorian Government is handing out $25 million in corporate welfare to promote sub-standard brown-coal exports during a world coal slump? Yeah, I do too.
And there is a reason why they are regulating AGAINST wind-farms, and it's nothing to do with aesthetics or 'wind-turbine syndrome'.
"If you live in Melbourne, then you're a consumer of brown-coal."
I know you don't buy it by the bag from Woolies, but every time you turn a light on, another shovel-full of brown coal is injected into the furnaces in the Latrobe Valley to generate power. Brown-coal is a significant industry, and the more investment the Victorian Government can encourage, the better off they think we'll all be. This is where they've let the team down.
The whole world is moving towards renewable energy, even China. (China was buying approximately 95% of Australia's coal exports in 2012). But here in Victoria, the government have regulated against renewable energy. I believe this is to make sure you are dependent on brown-coal. (I'm led to believe there's been only one application for a wind-turbine in Victoria in the last 12 months, because the regulations are so strict.)
I'm not suggesting we hang a 'closed' sign on the power stations in the Latrobe Valley. In the short-term, we have no alternative but to burn coal. But I'm hoping the people of the Latrobe Valley are prepared to diversify. I expect the government to phase out our dependence on coal as many countries have already done. This significantly reduces global warming as power generation is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gases. Every time we burn coal, we're taking carbon out of the ground and injecting it into the atmosphere.
"We're geared against renewable energy."
If the Victorian Government seem a bit slow to adapt to renewable energy, it must be remembered that they are trying to protect an industry. They have no vision of a future without coal, at this stage. They have not planned for it; they are moving in the opposite direction. This shouldn't be surprising. They have consistently placed the economy before the environment, and we need to look no further than native logging for another example of environmental mismanagement. The government owned company, VicForests, are clear-felling sensitive ecosystems at a massive rate, before the new rules come in to protect Leadbeater's Possum. They are working hardest in Toolangi, in areas that will be off-limits to them soon. They show no motivation to save Leadbeater's Possum. Just a single-minded determination to get the wood out before the new rules come in.
Meanwhile, plantation timber-farmers who grew blue-gum trees to service the logging industry are going to the wall because they can't sell the trees, which our now mature. They can't compete with subsidised trees from our native forests; free trees... This is due to government mismanagement. The money propping up VicForests should be subsidising plantation timber!
What we need from the government right now is leadership on environment. The federal climate-change policy includes carbon sequestration, but this is a joke while the Victorian Government clear-fell the most carbon-dense forests on the planet.
I came up with a scheme to put solar panels on the roof of every Victorian home who wanted it, and pay it off on their (much reduced) power bill. I proposed a 10 cent tax on drive-thru restaurants to finance it. (You can avoid the tax by parking and entering the restaurant.) I couldn't get my state or federal member to show any interest in the scheme, and now I think I know why.
The reason they block environmental reform is because of economics. The Coalition Government don't appear to have planned for a renewable future. This is not just an oversight - it's a failure of government policy. They don't see themselves as being weak on environment, and this, combined with federal government budget backlash, will possibly cost the Liberal and National parties government in November.
18th June 2014