Archive: Team Brumby
Last Updated 24/2/08
Victoria Gets A New State Government As "Team Brumby" Takes Over
(7/8/07 - SG) But has a social and environmental conscience left the building with Bracks and Thwaites?
When it comes to having a tumultuous time in parliament, last week in Victoria has to be amongst the best. As we all pick ourselves up from the shock of getting what really is a new government, without an election, there's a niggling doubt about where "Team Brumby" is headed. While a capable Treasurer, Mr. Brumby hasn't been noted to date as either a leader or visionary in social or environmental circles, and his preference for all things economic seems borne out in the nature of the portfolios distributed amongst the new Cabinet.
The first blow fell when water was dumped in with the finance portfolio. Water, says Premier Brumby, is more an economic than an environmental issue. Ah... can we perhaps take a small step back and ask ourselves where water comes from? It can no doubt be used for economic purposes but let us never forget it is a natural resource produced by the environment. If it isn't properly protected and respected as a natural resource, there won't be any water for economic, environmental or other uses.
The next major disappointment was community. This former stand-alone portfolio has been split up and handed off to various ministers, and community development has somehow landed with the Planning minister. As liveability (whatever that means) is named as a key prong of community development, has community development been downgraded to 'development for the community' from 'development of community'?
It was also hugely disappointing that, amid all the pre-announcement speculation about who would get what in the Cabinet reshuffle, the environment portfolio didn't get a look in. It has been hand-passed to new minister Gavin Jennings, along with Innovation which seems to bear out the old saying that politics can produce strange bedfellows.
Likewise, any hopes that there would be some curbs placed on pokie machines, or more accountability than the opaque version we have, have been dashed by Mr. Brumby's stated support for pokies and non-support for greater accountability.
Click here to see an Age article from August 2nd that sets out who's who in the new Cabinet.
We would be really, really worried if the Brumby government goes in the direction that is already discernible in the few decisions it has made to date. Are we in for a reincarnation of Jeff Kennett-style "economics only" policy, the kind that doesn't give two hoots for anything except getting things done, regardless of whether it's good, bad, awful or down-right destructive? The kind of focus on economics that gives economics (and development) a horrid name? We sincerely hope not. Along with everyone else, in this time of climate change, MRRA will be watching the State government closely, with our fingers crossed that Victoria may be blessed with leaders who think differently from those who got us in this mess in the first place. After all, genuine sustainability is about balancing environmental, social and economic issues, not prioritizing economics and just dragging the others along as an afterthought. Mmm... looks like there's already a bit of ground to make up there. Over to you, Mr. Brumby... you need to show us that your Premiership isn't a backward step on the sustainability front. More, not less.