The phoney campaign for the 2010 Victorian state election is well and truly underway. Unfortunately, this highlights the failings of politics and government to follow due process, public consultation and make appropriate decisions. Some examples follow.
The business case for smart meters has not been proven, yet residents are being forced to pay for them whether they want them or not. Greater benefits at much lower cost could have been obtained by installing simple in house energy meter displays to allow consumers to see real time how much power they are are using and therefore set about reducing it. Unfortunately, these "in home displays" have been dropped from the mandatory section of the Victorian Government's smart meter specification.
The Brumby government has embarked on a carbon intensive and environmentally damaging water strategy that also has no solid business case. The north south pipeline steals water from the chronically deprived Murray Darling basin and sends it over the divide to Melbourne. The desalination plant will consume large amounts of energy, pollute the Bass Coast, and result in high net carbon emissions. Meanwhile, water tanks, recycling and stopping logging in water catchments are all ignored, despite being more effective, cheaper and better for the environment.
The relaxing of stage 3A water restrictions is a political stunt for the election. Melbourne's water storages are still too low for this.
The economics of the desalination plan just don't stack up, and due diligence has not been a feature of the business case or the planning/approval process for it.
The internal workings of Government - including sham public consultations - is revealed in the media strategy written by Planning Minister Justin Madden's media advisor and accidentally sent to the media. Madden and Brumby have claimed repeatedly that the document is "unusual" and "irregular: and even that they have "seen nothing like it". What a load of nonsense. This sort of spin and manipulation is clearly common.
What has Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls and the Brumby Government go to hide? Given a Ministerial advisor wrote at document that indicates planning processes would be subverted (for the Windsor), why should they be "excluded" from giving evidence to a Parliamentary Committee? This has a whiff of corruption about it.
Decades of neglect and inadequate funding for Victoria's public transport by both Labor and Liberal governments have taken their toll. Trains don't run on time, or at all, and are packed when they do. Trams in the city are infrequent and now crowded to capacity. Privatisation is a failure. The new Metro operator is as bad or worse than the previous one.
The majority of funding in the 40b dollar transport plan is still going to roads and freeways.
Logging old growth forests
The 2010 Timber Release Plan (TRP) for East Gippland published by the Victorian Government will dramatically increase old growth forest logging in 2010. It deliberately targets old growth forest areas from maps used during negotiations with environment groups about the government's 2006 election commitment to "protect that last significant old growth forest in East Gippsland" Download the letter to get the full story.
VicForests, under the control of the Victorian Government, has been taken to court by Environment East Gippsland to protect Brown Mountain. The government refused to take appropriate action to protect endangered species such as the Potoroo from logging. It is to be hoped the judge finds the government should do what the law says and survey for threatened species in forests before logging them. Currently they don't - because they don't want to find them - which would mean they can't log the forests.
This track record is not good. I think it may even cost them the next election. Unfortunately, a Liberal/National government would most likely continue with all these flawed policies and practices.
So think about voting Green or independent and choose carefully where YOUR preference goes.