Do you acknowledge the climate emergency?
2,275 jurisdictions in 39 countries have declared a climate emergency. The Victorian Parliament has not and this has led to a lack of urgency and planning.
Rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions resulting in global warming are having a significant impact. Climate change pressures - extreme weather events - are already causing impacts across the world, including our region. Electrification of transport and households and investment in renewables will give us a fighting chance to halt global warming, give us cleaner air, give us cheaper electricity, and increase our energy security.
This is a moment in time where the decisions we make as individuals, as a community and as a state government, are critical. We need to do all we can to reduce our emissions as quickly as possible to help tackle this global issue. We have a Climate Emergency. We need urgent action and cohesive action across all levels of government.
To limit the impacts of global warming, Victoria must legislate a 75% emissions reduction target (based on 2005 levels) by 2030 and net zero by 2035, with an energy transformation plan to achieve a legislated 100% renewable energy target by 2030.
We will reach these targets through:
- An energy transformation plan with legislated targets
- Investments in renewable energy including storage, transmission and redundancy
- Electrification of households, transport and businesses
- Phasing out coal by 2030
- A plan to phase out gas with incentives to replace gas appliances
- Accelerated uptake of electric vehicles
How will we achieve 100% renewables by 2030?
We must do everything possible to cut our emissions and energy is our largest source of climate pollution. Victoria has been leading the way in Australia, making significant progress in building clean energy, but we need to transition completely to renewable energy and we need a race to the top approach to ensure we can achieve 100% renewables by 2030.
The renewable energy transition will create thousands of new jobs, lower power bills and protect our energy costs from the volatile global energy market.
Offshore wind and rooftop solar provide an achievable pathway for Victoria to generate 100% of our electricity through renewable energy by 2030. With a race-to-the-top approach and Independents in Parliament, we can make it happen.
We need to develop a comprehensive energy transformation plan with legislated targets and clear time frames. This plan should include:
- A legislated 100% renewable energy 2030 target
- Investments in offshore wind, storage and transmission
- Increase the uptake of rooftop solar with significant and widespread incentives, ensuring rooftop solar is accessible to all renters, business owners and homeowners
- Mandate solar panels for new buildings and homes
- Support skills-based training to expand the installation and maintenance of rooftop solar
- Remove barriers preventing the installation of rooftop solar for homes with a heritage-listed roof by adapting existing planning laws
- Investment based on expert advice in transmission, generation and storage
- Subsidies and incentives to increase battery storage at the household, business, community, and state level
How will we achieve net zero emissions by 2035?
Victoria has been leading the way with climate action in Australia but we must do more. As part of our contribution to limiting global warming, Victoria must legislate a 75% emissions reduction target for 2030 and a net zero emissions target for 2035 and then implement a comprehensive plan to achieve this.
These targets are very much achievable, it just requires significantly more political willpower to make it happen. Achieving net zero will involve more than just transitioning our energy sector to renewables. We need to electrify our public transport, homes and businesses, end native forest logging, accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles and phase out fossil fuels to maximise our emissions reduction.
A comprehensive plan to achieve net zero by 2035 must include
- An energy transformation plan to achieve 100% renewables by 2030
- A legislated 75% emissions reduction target (based on 2005 levels) by 2030
- A legislated 2035 net zero target
- A ban on new fossil fuel exploration
- Phasing out of coal by 2030
- A plan to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles
- Ending native forest logging in 2023, not 2030
- A target to reduce household gas use by 50% by 2030
- Incentives to encourage landlords, homeowners and businesses to replace gas appliances with electric and solar alternatives. Accelerating the transition away from gas and reducing the health impacts on children and adults.
- Phasing out the sale of gas appliances within the next 5 years
- Additional incentives for high-efficiency, smart appliances such as hot water systems and air conditioners
- A plan for measures to upgrade the 80% of Victoria’s 1.8 million homes that fall well below the 6 star energy efficiency rating
How will you accelerate electric vehicle uptake and make EVs more affordable?
Accelerating the uptake of electric vehicles will reduce emissions and air pollution, improving both our environment and our health. Currently, electric vehicles are too expensive and motorists don’t have confidence in the availability of public charging stations to make the switch.
Victoria must implement a detailed electric vehicle uptake strategy including:
- Repealing the electric vehicle tax until 50% of new vehicle sales in Victoria are EVs
- Establishing a secondhand electric vehicle market by ensuring that 100% of VicFleet purchases are electric vehicles with a two-year renewal program.
- Incentivising the purchase of electric vehicles through reduced stamp duty and registration fees with a goal of 100% of new vehicle sales being electric by 2035
- Ensure a widespread rollout of non-proprietary, publicly-accessible EV infrastructure that includes regional areas.
- Ensure all vehicles that receive or benefit from public funding are powered by renewable energy by 2040, including buses and emergency service vehicles
Do you support new coal and gas projects?
Victoria needs a race-to-the-top approach to renewables and an energy transformation plan with a target for 100% of our electricity to be generated by renewables by 2030.
We are already seeing the devastating impacts of global warming in Victoria and across the nation. Our rising temperatures, regular floods and worsening bushfires cannot be ignored.
Victoria must rapidly transition to 100% renewable energy, ending our reliance on fossil fuels. This means we must phase out coal by 2030 and develop a clear plan to end the use of gas in Victoria. I do not support any new coal or gas projects and I will seek to legislate a ban against new fossil fuels projects and public subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
How do we lift the standard of integrity in Victorian politics?
The Operation Watts report describes Victoria’s systems of parliamentary accountability as being weak and sets out a series of 21 recommendations to improve the standard of integrity and accountability in Victoria.
My commitments to integrity include:
- Fully implementing all 21 recommendations of Operation Watts
- Establishing a Parliamentary Ethics Committee
- Removing the exceptional circumstances requirement on public hearings, granting IBAC further discretion over when public hearings are held
- Broadening IBAC’s powers to allow the investigation of all forms of corruption, currently IBAC can only investigate if the conduct is deemed a criminal offence
- Lower the requirements for an IBAC investigation to commence. Currently, IBAC can only commence an investigation if it ‘suspects on reasonable grounds’ that corruption has occurred. Establishing reasonable grounds should not be a precondition as this is the entire purpose of an investigation
- Establishing a mechanism to ensure IBAC funding is Independent of government
- Legislate a mechanism that mandates evidence for major spending decisions be presented to Parliament to improve transparency and accountability of public spending
- Supporting legislation to regulate lobbying as recommended by IBAC
- Reform above the line voting for the upper house by removing group voting tickets as done for the Senate, granting control of preferences to the voter
- Legislate requirements for Ministers and the Premier to regularly disclose their diaries and meetings
What is your policy on native forest logging?
Victoria’s mountain ash forests are some of the most carbon-dense forests on the planet. The Victorian government must bring forward the date to end native forest logging to the end of 2023. At a time when we need to reduce emissions urgently and increase the tree canopy to draw down and sequester carbon, logging our native forests makes no sense. The logging of our native forests:
- Reduces water volumes and water quality in Melbourne’s water catchments
- Contributes to the extinction of endangered wildlife, most notably the Greater Glider which live in the hollows of trees over 80 years old
- Magnifies the severity of bushfires - the severity and devastation of the Black Summer and Black Saturday bushfires has been scientifically linked to this logging
- Removes the most carbon-dense forests on the planet
- Will cost the Victorian taxpayers an estimated $192 million between now and 2030
The Labor government’s plan is to end native forest logging in 2030, but it is not legislated. We must legislate an end to native forest logging and bring this date forward to the end of 2023.
In conjunction with key stakeholders, we must develop a forestry industry transition program, aimed at reskilling workers as they move out of native forest logging. Here this program will aim to offset the job losses brought on by the cessation of native logging as workers are transitioned into plantation timber harvesting, eco-tourism, habitat regeneration and other sustainable roles.
Why are our tree canopies so important?
Our tree canopies are vitally important in mitigating the impacts of global warming. Yet, we are losing 1-1.5% of our tree canopies in our suburbs each year. Tree canopies help cool our cities and suburbs by providing shade, minimising the urban heat island effect.
Studies predict that Victoria will start seeing 50-degree days in the coming decades. Victoria needs to be developing plans for mitigation and this must include changes to our planning legislation to protect our tree canopies.
Without the shade provided by our tree canopies, buildings and pavements will freely absorb and radiate heat, increasing air temperatures. On 50-degree days this will be deadly.
Now is the time for increased investment in our tree canopy coverage and a review of planning laws to future proof our streets.
How will you address the health crisis impacting our hospitals?
Victoria’s hospitals are under pressure from increased demand on emergency departments to full wards from a lack of rehabilitation and post-hospital care services for discharged patients. Announcing new hospitals does not resolve the problem. We need to acknowledge the staffing issues. For too long we have depended on the goodwill of a dedicated, vocationally focused workforce to put in long hours and work under enormous pressure. I support a range of measures to ensure Victorians get the world-class healthcare they deserve:
- The development of a long term plan for our healthcare system, informed by independent experts
- Better staffed and better-resourced hospitals with more flexible work arrangements will lower the high attrition rate of health workers and help attract new staff
- Career pathways and supported qualifications upgrades for medical staff to provide for a more productive medical care model
- A greater emphasis on primary care and preventative measures to reduce the demand on emergency presentations and critical care, including community health models
- Development of the allied health sector to provide the preventative and rehabilitation services to reduce hospital stays.
What will you do to improve accessibility to mental health services?
Some significant effort has been put into increasing awareness of mental health issues over the past few years, but the demand for assistance is not being met, with reports of people in crisis waiting months for specialist services. Victorians need more timely access to mental health services and the assurance that they will receive continuity of care. Measures to improve access to mental health services should include:
- An increase in government-funded services and a more integrated model for effective care
- Sustained commitment with major funding over a long period beyond political cycles to achieve the mental health services the community needs and deserve
- Partnerships between all levels of government to provide funding and services
How will you allocate preferences?
As a true Independent, I will not be doing any preference deals. My ‘how to vote card’ will ask the voters of Kew to Vote 1 Sophie Torney and number the remaining boxes according to their values.
Which party will you support in the event of a hung parliament?
If elected as Kew’s representative, I will work constructively with whoever forms government.
Should there be a hung parliament after the election, I’m willing to form a minority government with either party, provided they can commit to stronger climate action and significant integrity reforms.
As the Member for Kew, I will vote for each bill on its merits. My vote will always be determined by the evidence and the views and values of our community.
What is the value of an Independent?
An Independent’s first and only priority is their community. The value of an Independent is offering their community true representation without the influence of party politics. Party politicians are loyal first to their donors, lobbyists, factions and party.
For an Independent, every vote in Parliament is reflective of their community. Unlike with a party, the policy positions of an Independent are developed through community consultation and expert advice. An Independent engages with their community and listens to their concerns and values and then takes those values into Parliament.
The 2022 federal election started a new era of politics. We have already seen the impact that Independents can have in Parliament. The recently passed climate change bill was improved by sensible amendments from the newly elected Independents and Dr Monique Ryan is leading the national debate on electric vehicles and fuel efficiency. Independents in Federal Parliament have become the credible opposition by scrutinising every bill to improve legislation and by keeping important issues in the national spotlight. At a state level, in Victoria, we need Independents to lift the standard of debate, restore integrity to Spring Street and hold the major parties to account.
How is your campaign being funded?
Victoria has very strict donor laws. Donations are limited to $4,320 per person/organisation and donations over $1,080 must be disclosed to the VEC within 21 days.
The major parties have a loophole on donation caps which allows them to nominate one entity that can make unlimited donations to their party. For example, the Liberals use the McCormack Foundation.
Independents can’t nominate such an entity so we rely on everyday Australians to contribute where they can. As a result, my campaign is funded by community members who believe in the Independent movement and the positive change we can bring to parliament.