Victorian Parliament to investigate state’s preparedness for climate disasters

4 Oct 2023

A flooded street

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A Victorian Greens’ motion calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the state’s preparedness for upcoming climate disasters has passed the Upper House.

The inquiry will likely commence in early 2024 and investigate what can be done in our built environment and planning provisions to better protect communities, our homes and public infrastructure from the growing number of climate disasters.

In the past week alone Victoria has swung from bushfires to flash flooding, threatening homes in East Gippsland and providing a dire warning of the summer to come.

It’s clear that climate change is making floods, fires, heat waves and other climate disasters more frequent and intense, and that the Victorian Government could do much more to prepare and protect the Victorian community from the impacts of climate change.

The recent floods, and subsequent parliamentary inquiry, heard evidence about inadequate warning systems, councils unable to upgrade infrastructure like roads, bridges and storm water systems to be flood-resistant due to inadequate state and federal funding, and more and more people losing their homes and livelihoods due to increasing climate disasters.

Victorians remember the Black Summer of 2019 and how fire and smoke blanketed much of the state, making it difficult to breathe, with no way to escape the impacts.

Other Victorians will look at the upcoming hot summer with dread as they try to survive in houses with inadequate ventilation, insulation or cooling, with extreme heat killing people every single year, forcing our train systems to shut down, and melting our roads.

These are the types of issues that the inquiry will investigate.

The inquiry will look into how prepared the Victorian Government is for climate disasters, the barriers to upgrading our homes and infrastructure to withstand heat and other climate impacts, and what more could be done to protect Victorians from smoke, heat, climate-related disease, flood, fire and other climate disasters, with a specific focus on the planning system.

Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said with fires already at our doorstep, Victoria needed to do more to prepare for the huge impacts that climate change would wreak across our communities in the coming years.

She said the inquiry was an opportunity to work across party lines to investigate how to best prepare for the impacts of climate change and protect Victorians from smoke, heat waves, floods, fires and other climate impacts, because they will affect all of us.

Quotes attributable to Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:

“Just this week Victoria swung from bushfires to flash flooding in the space of 24 hours. Everyone remembers the heat, smoke and fire from Black Summer just a few years ago, and how it was impossible to escape.

“Victorians want to know what the Government is doing to prepare our state for the real risk that climate change poses to our communities, homes and infrastructure.

“This inquiry will investigate what the Victorian Government needs to do to better prepare and protect everyday Victorians from heat waves, bushfire smoke, fires, floods and other climate disasters.”

Image: A flooded street in Kensington during the Maribyrnong River floods in 2022.

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