The Victorian Coalition has pledged to cut travel times for motorists in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, as Labor promised to lift Victoria’s renewable energy target to 50 per cent.
- Labor promises to extend its half-price solar panels scheme to 50,000 rental homes
- The Coalition promises to remove seven intersections from the Dingley Bypass in Melbourne’s south-east
- Victoria Police is assessing a complaint about so-called preference whisperer Glenn Druery
Labor’s pledge comes as it battles the Greens in four inner-city seats once regarded as Labor strongholds: Melbourne, Northcote, Richmond and Brunswick.
Labor’s chances of retaining Richmond — held by Planning Minister Richard Wynne — suffered a setback today with the Liberal Party confirming it would not run a candidate in the seat.
Under Victoria’s legislated renewable energy target, 25 per cent of the state’s energy must come from renewable sources by 2020, and the target rises to 40 per cent by 2025.
Visiting a solar business in the marginal seat of Morwell, Premier Daniel Andrews pledged that a re-elected Labor government would require half of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030.
“This is a growing sector. It is about jobs and skills [and] economic opportunities,” he said.
“It’s also about more supply, putting downward pressure on household bills.”
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy today restated the Coalition’s commitment to scrap the target if it wins office, and said a national approach was needed to reduce emissions.
“This target today will mean higher energy prices for Victorians and lower energy prices over the border in say New South Wales and South Australia,” he said.
“Why is Daniel Andrews determined to put Victorian consumers, Victorian households, at a disadvantage to make them pay more?”
Mr Andrews also promised an extension of the Government’s half-price solar panels scheme to rental properties.
Under the $82-million plan, up to 50,000 rental homes would be able to access rebates and interest-free loans for solar panels, batteries and hot water systems.
Landlords and tenants would share the costs, with the government to pay half, the landlord a quarter and the tenant the remaining quarter in monthly instalments over four years.
Mr Andrews said the plan would be a “win-win for everybody involved”, with tenants saving money on their power bills, and landlords benefiting from the improvement to their properties.
“[The tenant] would save the best part of $600 each year [and] the landlord would have the asset that the government and tenant has helped them to purchase.”
He said provisions would be put in place, and monitored by the new Solar Victoria body, to ensure landlords did not exploit tenants or increase rents as a result of the panels.
Coalition promises to cut travel time for motorists
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy visited the marginal seat of Bentleigh with a promise to reduce congestion for voters in Melbourne’s south-east.
Mr Guy said the Coalition would remove seven sets of traffic lights along the Dingley Bypass, creating a Dingley freeway.
He said a Coalition government would work with VicRoads to lift the speed limit along the new freeway from 80 to 100 kilometres per hour.
“This project is about getting in control of congestion, making a real difference to travel times and getting Melbourne moving again,” he said.
Mr Guy said it would cost just under $600 million to remove the seven intersections, which he described as “money well spent”.
He said the removals would cut travel time for motorists by up to 15 minutes each way in peak hour.
The promise builds on the Coalition’s pledge to remove 55 intersections across Melbourne and Geelong.
The Coalition has set a target of removing 30 intersections within the first term of a Coalition government, with 25 more to be removed in a second term.
Mr Guy also promised $16 million for State Schools Relief, a charity that provides school uniforms, shoes, glasses and other essentials to needy students.
Press releases removed from Premier’s website
Also today, a number of press releases have been taken down from a Victorian Government website because they contained political attacks.
The secretary of the Department of Premier & Cabinet, Chris Eccles, said several press releases from the Premier’s website had been removed, following complaints from the Opposition.
During the caretaker period, press releases from the government are allowed to be published, but criticising opponents is forbidden.
In one press release published on Monday that caused ire in the Coalition, Labor spruiked the state economy and added that “all the progress our state is making is at risk under the Liberals, who have shown time and again they are for cuts and big corporations.”
Liberal frontbencher Ryan Smith complained about the release to Mr Eccles.
“The position you occupy carries a weight of responsibility to the Victorian people to put them first rather than the Labor Party, particularly during the caretaker period,” Mr Smith wrote.
Mr Eccles said the material had been removed and that “no further election-related media release will be published to the site.”
Mr Smith said Labor had “been caught cheating the system again”.
“It wouldn’t be a Labor campaign if some rules weren’t blatantly broken,” he said.
A government spokeswoman said: “Government announcements can be made during the caretaker period however to avoid confusion these media releases have been taken down.”
Victoria Police assessing Electoral Commission complaint
Meanwhile, the Victorian Electoral Commissioner has asked police to investigate allegations that a staffer to Senator Derryn Hinch is charging money for preference deals.
Upper House MP and Reason Party leader Fiona Patten, lodged a complaint with the Electoral Commission last month, alleging that so-called preference whisperer Glenn Druery asked for upfront payment to enter preference negotiations.
Victoria Police said it had referred a complaint from the Electoral Commission to the Crime Command for assessment.
The ABC has contacted Mr Druery for comment.