MPs are more likely to prioritise the legislative protection of nature in national parks when their constituents – the people like you that vote for them – call and ask them to support it.

This page has been created to make it easy for you to call your decision-makers and relay your support for new national parks in the central west.


WHAT IS THE SITUATION?

Over eighteen months ago, f​inal recommendations from independent state government authority​, the Victorian Environment Assessment Council (VEAC), were tabled in state parliament. The recommendations: permanently protect around 60,000 hectares of native bushland in the central west of Victoria with the establishment of four new or expanded national parks.

THE PROBLEM?

The state Labor Government has not yet accepted the recommendations. Legally they had until 20 February 2020 to respond. ​That date has long passed. As time drags on, damage to the proposed parks continues.

THE SOLUTION?

The State Labor Government accepts the VEAC recommendations to create new national parks in the central west.


WHO ARE WE CALLING?

  1. Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment & Climate Change
    PH: (03) 9637 9504
  2. Mary-Ann Thomas, Minister for Regional Development
    PH: (03) 8392 2261

MAKING THE CALL

The health pandemic has changed the way parliament functions – this means you can still contact MPs but you may not be able to speak to them. Often you’ll reach a staff member who will listen to your message and relay it to their MPs, or you’ll leave a voice message.

It’s important to leave your contact details so they can get back to you. It helps to be prepared to leave a voice message – we’ve provided some guidance below.

This is just a guide and we know MPs are impacted most when you are sharing your own story and why you want them to accept the VEAC recommendations for new parks. We recommended using the guidelines and suggested material below to draft an outline or script for what you’ll say, and make it specific to you and your unique voice.


WHERE TO START

Introduce yourself and explain why you’re making the call. You can then move into more specific reasons for calling, based on what is important to you. You can also talk about the big picture reasons you think this is important for the Labor Government to act on:

Suggested introduction lines for speaking to Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for the Environment:

Hello, my name is <NAME>. I live in Victoria. I’m calling <YOU/MINISTER D’AMBROSIO> as the minister responsible for the environment, and as one of my elected representatives in Victoria’s lower house. I understand that <YOU/MINISTER D’AMBROSIO> is/are responsible for accepting the VEAC recommendations for new national parks in the central west of Victoria, which are now six months overdue. I’m concerned that the Victorian Parliament isn’t doing enough to protect our natural places. I’d like you to support these new parks because <INSERT REASONS>. Thank you for your time.

Suggested introduction lines for speaking to Mary-Ann Thomas, Minister for the Regional Development:

Hello, my name is <NAME>. I live in Victoria. I’m calling <YOU/MINISTER D’AMBROSIO> as the minister responsible for regional development, and as one of my elected representatives in Victoria’s lower house. I’d like <YOU/MINISTER THOMAS> to recognise the opportunities in investing in new national parks for the benefit of regional economies. I’d like you to support these new parks because <INSERT REASONS>. Thank you for your time.


HOW TO FINISH UP

Tell your MP what you’d like to see them do. Here are our suggestions:

I’d like to see the Victorian Labor Government commit to:

• Publicly support all of the final VEAC recommendations
• Create the proposed new national parks and reserves within this term of government
• Appropriate resources for park establishment and management

Ask the person on the phone to make sure your message is communicated to the MP. Ask them to follow up with you if that’s possible. Thank them for their time.


Talking points

 Big picture

  • As a steward for our central west forests I call on you to make sure VEAC’s final recommendations for new national parks in the central west are fully supported by government.
  • A legally mandated response in parliament to these important recommendations is now one year overdue, and I urge your government to respond as quickly as possible.
  • Australian and Victoria have signed up to international conventions which oblige jurisdictions to create and care for national parks.
  • In a time when we need a bit of hope, our elected representatives should be protecting forest and bushland for everyone to enjoy instead of exempting native forest logging from conservation land.
  • There has been nor substantial additions to our national park estate in a decade.

Native forest logging

  • The Victorian Government is allowing taxpayer subsidised logging in our native forests at the expense of the community and the natural environment.
  • As a keen bushwalker I’m distressed that the popular Beeripmo Walk (that sits within the proposed national park for this area) is being logged.
  • Active logging happening now on the park boundary risks the future of the rare and endemic Mt. Cole Grevillea, which has already suffered a 75% decline, largely from logging.
  • Victoria is one of the most cleared landscapes in Australia. Clearing forests releases carbon, depletes soil and comprises waterways.

Threatened wildlife & habitat

  • National Parks are the foundation of conservation efforts to protect threatened wildlife and habitat.
  • A significant population of Powerful Owls was just discovered by citizen scientists at Mount Cole. This highlights the need to halt logging and protect these areas.
  • The forests of the central west are rich in biodiversity, with 380 rare or threatened species – the Wombat-Lerderderg National Park is among the most important for Victoria’s biodiversity.
  • These forests are home to endangered and threatened species like the Mount Cole Grevillea, the Greater Glider, the Grampians Bitter Pea – National Parks reduce the risk to these species by removing the threat of logging and mining.
  • Wombat Forest is one of the strongholds for the Greater Glider across the state, and the only population of this threatened species west of the Hume Highway.
  • There’s ample evidence that species with habitats in national parks are more than twice as likely to be stable or recovering than species living in habitats not protected by national parks.

Sustainable futures for regional communities

  • Tourists spend $2.1 billion per year associated with their visits to parks, and add 20,400 jobs to the state’s economy, including many regional jobs.
  • A newly released independent economic assessment of new national parks for Victoria’s central west, shows that investing in these new parks will return between four times to double the economic return on investment.

Climate change

  • Forests play a key role in combating the impacts of the climate crisis – and we need to do a lot more to slow the warming of our climate.
  • These forests are some of the most carbon-dense native forests in the world – it makes sense to keep them standing, protected in a national park, in the climate crisis.
  • The benefits of stored forest carbon in new protected areas were recently calculated in an economic assessment. The results demonstrate the potential for forest carbon, with a carbon price of $12/tonne ($456 million) or $16/tonne ($ 608 million) a significant beneficial effect on the viability of the parks.

Heath

  • The coronavirus pandemic has really highlighted the importance of access and time spent in natural spaces – especially large parks and reserves that are easy to get to.
  • Time spent in nature has significant positive impact on mental, emotional and physical health: reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and so much more – but visiting parks with areas locked off for logging and mining isn’t good for people or nature.
  • Every time we come out of lock down people flock to our state and national parks for respite and recreation, now’s the time to expand our parks estate for all Victorians.

Add your own personal experiences, concerns, values​, perspectives. Some ideas:

  • Sharing your vision for a nature-rich future for your children/grandchildren/family and friends.
  • Your experience spending time in these forests and your connection to them.
  • The impacts for communities on the front line, like first nations people, climate-affected regions,and native species like the Greater Glider.
  • Supporting a post-covid recovery that invests in an equal society that prioritises the health of people and nature.

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