THE Greens candidate for Gippsland, Deb Foskey, said her campaign would focus on climate change and the potential for rewarding jobs in a well-managed environment.
“Gippsland is one of Victoria’s food bowls,” she said.
“This summer brought ruin to some reliable crops – corn and other vegetables – and it was a wake-up call to farmers.
“The reality of climate change was brought home to Gippslanders by record temperatures in the second summer of a serious drought,” Dr Foskey said.
“This summer, farmers reported dying plants, spoiling fruit and corn cobs and suffering stock and poultry.
“In paddocks without shelter trees, cattle, sheep and horses had to endure killing heat.
“Vegetable growers on the Lindenow flats had to rely on stored water as restrictions on irrigation from the Mitchell River were introduced.
“This threatened our food production industry, as Gippsland supplies 60 per cent of Victoria’s vegetables.”
Dr Foskey said some major rivers ceased running, meaning there was less fresh water to keep the Gippsland Lakes healthy.
“Meanwhile, large fires burned out of control throughout summer,” she continued.
“During this period, with so many events lining up, neither state MP Tim Bull nor federal MP Darren Chester uttered the words ‘climate change’.
“In this they echo their colleagues and National Party policy, which continues to spruik mining and other resource extraction industries as the only employment options for rural and regional electorates.
“Asked in an recent interview if the Nationals had ever supported farmers over a mining project, Michael McCormack could not remember one instance.”
Dr Foskey said the Bureau of Meteorology predicted temperatures would continue to rise in Gippsland, with more days of dangerous extreme temperatures.
“Gippsland voters will have to look beyond the Nationals if they want action to prevent runaway climate change and mitigate its impacts,” she said.
“The Nationals cannot represent their communities while they cling to an unscientific view of the world that ignores scientific evidence.
“While the rest of the world makes plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid climate catastrophe, the Nationals remain hooked on industries which are part of the problem.”
Dr Foskey said The Greens had a “comprehensive plan” to tackle climate change while bringing new jobs in renewable energy, environmental management and services like health and education, which she said were under-resourced in Gippsland.