Victorian Budget: Greens welcome big spend and job creation in key Greens priority areas

Australian Greens

The Victorian Greens have welcomed a number of investments in the state budget in key areas that the Greens have been campaigning on for years, including renewable energy and social housing.

Many of the unprecedented investments – in social housing, a big battery, energy efficiency, environmental restoration and jobs in the caring economy – mimic policies the Greens took to the 2018 election, and have spent the last nine months lobbying for as part of a Green New Deal.

Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said this was a once-in-a-generation budget and she was pleased to see the government treat it as such by making ambitious investments to help Victoria bounce back from COVID.

However, she added that while many of the measures included in this year’s budget would help to build Victoria back better, the Greens were disappointed to see the government ignore the important issue of broader tax reform, and instead introduce a tax on people who drive electric cars.

Ms Sandell said that by choosing to maintain our outdated stamp duty tax system, many Victorians would continue to be locked out of the housing market, leading to increasing numbers of people facing housing insecurity.

And the government’s decision to introduce a tax on electric vehicle users is the last thing we need during a time of climate crisis.

A tax on electric vehicles would be a huge backwards step in our state’s efforts to lower emissions and address the climate crisis by discouraging people from switching to low-emissions electric vehicles when the rest of the world is going in the opposite direction.

The Greens say these measures could undermine the important budget spend on housing and the environment.

As stated by Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:

“We’re so pleased that many of the projects funded in the Budget today align strongly with proposals the Greens took to the last election and have campaigned on for the last nine months as part of our proposal for a Green New Deal.

“To see a big build of social housing and a big battery in this Budget is a testament to the ideas and campaigns run by the Greens and progressive community advocates over the past few years. We are clearly setting the agenda in Victoria, and borrowing to build these projects is the right thing to do.

“While there is much to celebrate in this Budget, we’re disappointed to see the Labor Government miss the opportunity to reform outdated Stamp Duty, which pushes up housing prices, and introduce a ridiculous tax on Electric Vehicles which will slow down action on climate change.”

On housing

“Homelessness is the number one social justice issues facing this state and the best way to fix it is by building homes for people in need,” says Sam Hibbins MP, acting spokesperson for housing.

“There are now more than 100,000 people, many of them children, who are on the waiting list for public housing. The Greens have been calling for a big build of public housing to help end homelessness, cut the public housing waiting list and create jobs.

“We’re pleased to see the Victorian Government make housing a priority in the budget, and we hope that this will help to alleviate the waiting list, but the government needs to be ready to expand the build if needed.

“The waiting list may grow faster than these homes are built, so we’ll continue to push for more public housing until every Victorian has a safe and secure place to call home.”

On climate and the environment

“The Greens have been calling for a Green New Deal in this Budget, including funding for a big battery, more renewable energy and efficiency programs,” says Ellen Sandell MP, Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens.

“We’re so pleased to see the Government has heard these calls. However, we are disappointed there is no clear plan or commitment to stop using coal in Victoria, and support workers in this transition, and this must now be a top priority for Victoria’s future.

“While there is some funding for the environment, the government has missed the opportunity for a big restoration of Victoria’s precious environment after the devastation of the bushfires, and the creation of more regional jobs. A healthy planet is our life support system and we need to start prioritising it accordingly.”

On transport

“We welcome the investment in 100 new trams and tram corridor planning as a step toward creating the truly modern tram network that is part of the Greens’ ‘Rail to Recovery’ plan,” says Sam Hibbins MP, spokesperson for transport.

“However, we are disappointed that yet again the government has not invested in increasing train or tram services. An immediate boost to train services would have immediately created jobs for drivers and maintenance staff whilst reducing wait times and creating a more people friendly public transport network.”

On health

“We’re pleased that the government has listened to our calls for more jobs in caring professions like health and mental health, to help avoid a recession in those sectors,” says Dr Tim Read, spokesperson for health.

“Women have borne the brunt of COVID-19 job losses since March, with the number of Victorian women who are out of work now the highest on record. In July alone, the rate of women losing their jobs was almost five times the rate for men and the second lockdown will likely have only accelerated this trend.

“That’s why it was important that job creation in the budget went beyond hard hats and construction sites.

“We also think the government’s plan to establish an Australian Institute for Infectious Diseases in Melbourne is a good step, but a national centre for disease control is what is ultimately needed.

“Victoria’s extensive network of GPs was largely ignored during the pandemic, while the state set up a parallel network of testing centres. Some patients in July waited over ten days for test results, because of simple logistical problems resulting from a lack of coordination between private and public laboratories and the new public testing system.

“A national CDC would help to bring together expertise from across the country and help us to deliver a coordinated response to the pandemic.”

On education

“The Victorian Greens welcome funding for students to keep digital devices loaned to them during the pandemic,” says Sam Hibbins MP, spokesperson for education.

“The Greens have repeatedly called on Minister Merlino to guarantee that students would have continued access to digital devices beyond the remote learning period.

“The pandemic exposed that digital divide in education, and it is really concerning is that so many Victorian school students were already without access to laptop devices and/or the internet at home.

“The state government must ensure future provision so that no student is left without a computer or internet access at home.”

/Public Release. View in full here.