The Andrews Labor Government has created three new national parks in Victoria’s central west, adding over 65,000 hectares to Australia’s national park register either side of Ballarat and north-east of Bendigo.
Victoria has a beautiful natural environment which should be preserved and protected, and there should be more opportunities – not less – for Victorians to get into our great outdoors and enjoy activities like bushwalking, camping, fishing, prospecting and horse riding.
Labor’s response to the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) will result in the people who know and care for these areas being locked out of the National Park. The more people get out and experience what our natural bush offers, the more passionate people will be about preserving these special and unique places.
Furthermore, Labor has let Victoria’s existing national and state parks become overrun with pests and invasive weeds. Labor has done nothing to control populations of damaging feral dogs, pigs and deer and is dismally failing when it comes to Victoria’s ecosystem decline.
In a recent Parliamentary Inquiry, environmental experts slammed the devastating impact the government’s chaotic mismanagement of invasive species is having on Victoria’s threatened wildlife. Labor’s policies are confused – on the one hand they announce new national parks, while on the other they want to introduce dingoes to the Grampians that will threaten native bandicoots and quolls.
The State Government’s first priority should be to better protect what we already have, and properly support and invest in our existing national parks before creating new national parks.
Given Labor slashed the total budget for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) in the 2021/22 State Budget by a whopping $601 million, and existing parks are underfunded and poorly managed today, Labor must come clean on how they will fund 65,000 additional hectares of national parks.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Bridget Vallence:
“Labor’s announcement about new national parks is all headline, but no detail. Slapping a National Park label on a forest does not guarantee the environment will be nurtured and protected.
“Labor has let Victoria’s existing parks become overrun with feral dogs, pigs, deer and invasive weeds, which has had a devastating impact on Victoria’s threatened native species.
“Given the Andrews Labor Government has cut the Department of Environment’s budget by a whopping $601 million, they now must come clean with Victorians about how they’ll fund 65,000 additional hectares of National Parks.
“The government should be concentrating on better protecting and improving the condition of our existing national parks before creating new national parks.”
Comments attributable to Member for Ripon, Louise Staley:
“The people of Ripon have demonstrated over and over again that they are totally against this move that will lock many out of these areas.
“Many communities in Ripon such as Maryborough, Dunnolly and Creswick fill their motel rooms, caravan parks, and restaurants with prospectors and horse riders. This decision will end all that, creating great economic harm at a time when lockdown restrictions have already put these small businesses on their knees.
“The Andrews Labor Government should be resourcing and fixing its current parks, addressing the weed and feral animal problem in them, rather than simply putting up a new sign on the front gate.”