Victorian election: Pledge to undo renewable revolution sees Liberals suffer electoral annihilation

Victorians have sent a message to climate laggards across the nation by rejecting the Coalition’s plan to repeal the state’s Renewable Energy Target (VRET) and rewarding Labor’s vision to ramp up the renewables revolution.

The scale of this weekend’s electoral bloodbath warrants further examination. Opposition Leader Matthew Guy started the weekend presiding over 37 seats in the lower house. Some particularly generous commentators had even given him a slim chance of flipping the eight seats needed to form government.

How quickly things can turn in politics. By Saturday evening, Guy had already lost more than ten seats and was eyeing one of the greatest electoral wipeouts in Victorian history.

Voters didn’t just politely decline the chance to repeal the VRET, the law that will see Victoria source 50 percent of its power from renewables by 2030, they slapped down the policy and its promoters, in the most dramatic manner possible.

As it stands Labor could win almost 60 seats in the 88-seat chamber, taking some of the safest Liberal seats in the state, and converting previously safe Liberal seats to marginals.

Coming hot on the heels of the rebuke in Wentworth, it suggests that any appetite that voters once had for climate denial and renewables scare-mongering, is well and truly gone.

The result was described by many pundits as a shock, but it really only confirms what polling has been telling us for years.

Victorians were presented with a choice between abandoning the renewable transition or expanding it beyond large-scale projects and into rooftop solar panels and batteries. And Victorians voted for renewable energy.

If the message from Wentworth by-election wasn’t clear enough, the Liberal Party have been given another reminder. Australians are sick of the climate denial and scare-mongering. They want action on climate change and an energy system dominated by renewables, and they will vote for parties who can deliver them.

Seventy-five percent of Victorians want to see their state government increase investment in renewable energy to combat climate change, a Reachtel poll of more than 1000 Victorians conducted earlier this month found.

Around the same time, a Greenpeace commissioned report by RepuTex, examining the impacts of the major parties’ energy policies on prices and emissions found the Coalition’s proposal to repeal the VRET would result in the worst outcome for Victorians both in terms of power prices and carbon pollution.

It also found that Labor’s policy of 40 percent renewables by 2025 would lead to the largest reduction in power prices, while the Greens policy of 100 percent renewables by 2025 would drive the steepest emission cuts by far.

If you look at the parties’ policies and where public sentiment is, maybe the result of this election was not as much of a surprise as some have declared.

Either way, the message sent by voters is clear. It’s up to Scott Morrison whether he heeds the warning or sticks to his policy of ‘no climate policy’, knowing what a liability that approach is in today’s Australia.


By Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan