My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Local Government, and it relates to the green light plan. Under a funding partnership agreement with the Baillieu government the Great South Coast program was to replace 7660 streetlights with energy-efficient bulbs across municipalities including the Colac Otway and Corangamite shires, the city of Warrnambool, and the Moyne, Southern Grampians and Glenelg shires. The federal Labor government has contributed $1.4 million for the project, and the Baillieu government promised $1.6 million through its green light plan,
The municipalities that make up the Great South Coast indicated that they are fully committed to the program, which it is said will save the Great South Coast councils almost $10 million by 2030 and pay for the initial cost outlay in four to five years through electricity savings.
However, the state government has broken its promise to provide this money and reneged on its support for local councils in their efforts to lower costs and decrease their impact on the environment.
Ratepayers in these municipalities have now come to the realisation that what the government has essentially done is drop its commitment like a hot light bulb and hand regional Victorians in these municipalities a bill for $1.6 million. This issue is being played out in the wider community. It is a cost issue for communities about which there has been ample discussion. The Colac Herald of 27 July has the headline ‘Ratepayers facing bill from broken promise’. The Portland Observer of 30 July has the headline ‘Green lighting tick despite dim decision from state’. The Age of 3 May has an article by Josh Gordon with the headline ‘Green programs to be cut’. This additional cost burden is simply not sustainable for local government, particularly for rural councils with a low rate base.
I request that the minister take action and honour the promise made by this government to immediately reinstate state government funding for the green light plan to all local government areas in western Victoria that had committed to the green light plan.