“The Victorian Greens are going into the 2022 state election in a strong position. We are guided by our values and commitment to ecological sustainability, social justice, grassroots democracy and peace and non-violence and we are fueled by hope.”
This speech was given on Saturday 1 October at the 2022 AGV State Conference:
Good morning state conference and all in attendance today at this exciting point of our election campaign.
Firstly I want to acknowledge we are meeting on Aboriginal land wherever we are listening in from. I am on the land of the Wurundjeri people and I pay my respects to elders past and present and to any First Nations people here today.
Sovereignty was never ceded. Here in this place we call Victoria, we have embarked on a process of Treaty and truth telling but Treaty isn’t just an outcome sometime in the future. It is about recognising sovereignty and listening to First Nations communities now and acting now.
That is what the Greens do.
I want to acknowledge Senator Lidia Thorpe and the Blak Greens for helping us as a party better understand the ongoing impacts of colonisation and the importance of fighting for justice.
This election we will continue that fight by supporting First Nation people with Treaty, calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14, and helping to stop deaths in custody by fixing our bail laws.
I am excited to be speaking to you today from the Richmond campaign office where Gabrielle De Vietri is looking to be the first Greens MP for Richmond!
And I am surrounded by some of our amazing candidates from all over the state, members and volunteers as well as our current Victorian Greens MPs, Ellen Sandell, Sam Hibbins and Tim Read.
Today, the Victorian Greens launch our visionary policy platform for the upcoming State election – and I am thrilled to be able to share it with State Conference today.
The Victorian Greens are going into the 2022 state election in a strong position. We are guided by our values and commitment to ecological sustainability, social justice, grassroots democracy and peace and non-violence and we are fuelled by hope.
We are ready to build on the momentum of the federal election where more Victorians voted Greens than ever before.
And that happened because our message of hope for action on climate change and inequality resonated with an electorate tired of being taken for granted by the old parties.
Here in Victoria we are seeing something similar. Voters are turning away from the two old parties and looking to support strong local voices who will advocate for their communities, push for bold reforms and hold governments to account.
This is what the Greens offer.
If the last 4 years have taught us anything, it is that Spring Street needs a shake up. Political debate dominated by two men shouting at each other should be a thing of the past.
Our parliament needs more diversity, more voices from the community and a government prepared to listen and work cooperatively.
This past parliamentary term has shown that the Greens help shape the decisions governments make and all too often – actually set the agenda.
From permanently banning toxic fracking, to introducing a windfall rezoning tax to banning single use plastics and rolling out a cash for cans scheme, the Greens have pushed the government to implement good policy.
One of the first Bills we proposed this term was ending discrimination against LGBTIQA+ kids in schools – these better laws become a reality this year.
In 2020 we secured a ban on evictions and rent increases to protect people as they lost work as the COVID pandemic hit. We worked constructively with the government to manage the impact of the pandemic and advocated for those being left behind.
And while we may not be credited for those policy outcomes – it is safe to say that without the Greens campaigning both inside and outside the parliament, introducing bills, moving motions, tabling petitions, asking questions, initiating parliamentary inquiries and holding governments to account – Victoria would be much less progressive than it is now.
And it is in our electoral success and in contesting elections that we also get results. For example, after years of campaigning by the Greens on renters rights, Labor announced its package of rental reforms when the Greens challenged them in the Northcote by-election.
Let’s hope our pressure for action on a better deal for renters works again!
The polls are showing it is likely Labor will retain government, but it could be close. On the other hand it is almost impossible to see the Liberals win and they shouldn’t. They have been a bad opposition and would be worse in government. They are being overtaken by right wing zealots and are increasingly irrelevant. The polls are bearing this out.
So it is more important than ever to have more Greens in the parliament pushing the next government to go further and faster on the issues that matter to Victorians and holding them to account.
This election it is the Greens proposing a positive and hopeful vision for the future of Victoria.
Unlike the Labor and Liberal parties we are not beholden to corporate donors.
And we are unafraid to put bold solutions on the table to tackle climate change, address the housing crisis and restore integrity to Victorian politics.
And today I am launching – and giving you all – the first look at our election platform.
We are excited to be presenting Victorians with big ideas to address the challenges of our time.
This is the critical decade for climate action. Fires, floods, droughts and other climate fuelled disasters are already hitting home. Coal and gas are the leading causes of climate change.
Yet here in Victoria, Labor and the Liberals are pouring more fuel on the fire by backing more coal and gas. The Labor government is backing new gas projects, including near the iconic 12 Apostles. Labor still plans to allow coal burning until 2048. They have not been honest with the Victorian people about coal and are letting the big energy companies dictate terms.
If you don’t have a plan to phase out coal and gas you don’t have a plan for tackling climate change. Climate scientists tell us we must transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
And it is only the Greens who are putting forward that plan for Victoria.
I was very proud to introduce into the parliament a few months ago legislation that would see an end to coal by 2030. The Bill was accompanied by our plan to invest $10 billion into renewable energy including publicly owned generation, storage and transmission and a guaranteed job for all Victoria’s coal workers.
We have also introduced legislation to ban all new oil & gas drilling in our oceans and released our plan to get 1 million Victoria homes off gas. These are the policies Victoria needs to address climate change. If we don’t then the bushfire, floods and heatwaves will be costing our communities a lot more into the future.
And while we are at it we need to stop logging our precious native forests now.
Today I am also very pleased to be launching our policy for affordable housing.
Victoria is facing a housing crisis.
Rents are rising four times faster than wages and too many people are locked out of owning a home of their own.
Our public housing system has been neglected, with 120,000 Victorians waiting for a home, and tens of thousands more experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.
The housing crisis is a crisis of inequality. Those with existing economic means can afford a home and increase their wealth. Those without are left with an increasingly exploitative rental market or a neglected public housing system.
House prices in Melbourne have almost doubled in the last decade. Rents are going through the roof and with the vacancy rate at record lows renters are having to put up with run down poor quality homes.
To make housing affordable the Greens have a plan to build 200 000 new public and affordable homes.
As part of our plan we will make property developers set aside 30% of homes in large developments for first home owners at an affordable price.
First home owners would not need to compete with cashed-up investors for these homes and they will be able to live where they want to live.
These sorts of requirements for affordable housing are common in other parts of the world yet in Victoria we are regularly seeing the state government approve large developments with no requirements for any affordable housing at all.
It is time the government made property developers pay their fair share.
Unfortunately the Labor government is too close to the development industry. Demonstrated by how they spectacularly dropped the social and affordable housing levy which would have seen property developers pay a small levy to help fund more affordable housing. The idea lasted only 5 days. The Greens will push to bring it back.
We also remain committed to our plan to build 100 000 public homes over the next 10 years. Every housing expert around will tell you building more social housing is essential to addressing the housing crisis but it has to be enough to meet the problem. Let us be ambitious. Building public housing is a nation building project.
Yet Victoria still spends the least of any state on public housing per capita and in fact we have fewer public housing units now than when this government took office 8 years ago.
Our affordable housing policy announced today sits alongside our Fairer Renting policy. More and more Victorian are renting and for longer – they are facing out of control rent rises, poor quality homes and estate agents wielding unfair power renters – and they are emerging as a key constituency in this election and will be ignored by the major parties at their peril.
Caps on rent increases, better standards and a new Housing Ombudsman to help renters more easily enforce their rights are what the Greens are offering, let’s see if the major parties have the courage to match it.
We can make housing affordable. If we reign in the power of the development industry and create a housing system that puts people before profit.
There is lots more in the platform we are releasing today. The COVID pandemic revealed the reality of decades of underfunding of our health system. We have policies to free up hospital beds and make it easier to see a community GP or dentist.
Our platform will help ease cost of living pressures with more affordable housing, cheaper energy, and genuinely free schools. We have policies on more public transport services, protecting our precious environment and native animals and a plan to restore integrity to Victorian politics.
And there is more to come!
And we will pay for our policies by making the big banks, property developers and gambling industry pay their fair share.
So there is lots to talk about when you are out and about talking to voters, knocking on doors, holding stalls, leafleting at train stations.
It is now just 8 weeks until election day. We know Labor will come after us. It is what they do to try and divide and distract us. But I also know that together we are a force to be reckoned with. With all of you – our amazing candidates, members and volunteers – and this platform full of bold ideas, the Greens can shake up Victorian politics and help create a better future for all Victorians.
We are a grassroots movement and our strength is you. I look forward to campaigning with you every step of the way across Victoria in the coming weeks.