10 big wins in 2019

As 2019 comes to a close, I want to thank you for your support and celebrate some of our achievements.

It will be a memorable year for me for many reasons, not least of all because I welcomed my happy, healthy son Gabriel into the world.

Ellen and Gabe

Thanks to my incredible team who went above and beyond while I was on parental leave. I knew that Melbourne’s residents were in safe hands. 

It's also been a really tough year as our planet and community is feeling the impacts of climate change. The worsening droughts and fires, and the voices of our young people taking to the streets to demand urgent action to safeguard their future, have been powerful motivators for me this year.

And I’m proud to say that, together, we achieved some big wins this year. 

For everyone who turned up to a rally, signed a petition, or raised awareness of an issue via social media - thank you! 

Here are 10 stand-out moments from 2019 that we can all be really proud of.

10. Ignited the charge for a recycling revolution

Victoria’s recycling system was sent into chaos earlier in the year, after the Andrews Government failed to prepare for China’s plan to stop taking our recycling. So the Greens led the charge to fix the mess. In the Victorian Parliament we successfully instigated a Parliamentary Inquiry into the issue, which recommended an overhaul of Victoria’s waste system, and we look forward to seeing some big action on this issue in the new year.

Igniting the charge for a recycling revolution

9. Campaigned to replace Yallourn coal power station

At a time of climate crisis, worsening droughts and catastrophic fires, Victoria needs a plan to phase out coal. So this year we launched our campaign to Replace Yallourn, Australia’s most polluting coal power station. With your help, we have firmly put the issue on the agenda. The Andrews Labor government is now on notice. It’s not enough just to build renewables, they also need a plan to get out of coal, with a just transition plan for workers and communities.

Replace Yallourn

8. Secured government funding to fix the cladding crisis

Over 12 months ago, my office started receiving calls from residents about flammable cladding on their buildings. I was shocked to see how little the government had done to help these people. Because of a failure of government regulation and dodgy developers, people were being forced to live in dangerous buildings and pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to make their homes safe. Recently, the government finally agreed to implement the policy my fellow Greens MPs and I have been calling for and established a fund to fix flammable cladding. We know it’s not perfect and there’s a long way to go, but it’s a great start and I will continue pushing for the government to fix dangerous cladding, and keep Melbourne safe.

7. Achieved a Parliamentary Inquiry into the extinction crisis

The Greens campaigned for and won a Parliamentary Inquiry into the extinction crisis in Victoria. Early next year the Parliament will investigate the extent of native species extinction in Victoria and how we can better protect our biodiversity. This is a huge step towards restoring our state after more than two centuries of destruction.

6. Stopped an Apple megastore from being built in Fed Square

Just days before Christmas last year, the state government rushed through approval for an Apple megastore in Federation Square. The Greens and I campaigned against this terrible plan from the start, alongside an incredible effort from the community, particularly community group Our City Our Square. Together, we lobbied Heritage Victoria to refuse their permits, and defeated the plans once and for all! Our public space is too important to be turned into a corporate shopping strip. I will always defend our public spaces, and the beautiful places that make Melbourne unique.

Federation Square rally

5. Secured an end date for logging in Victoria’s forests

Thanks to relentless pressure from the community, frontline activists and the Greens in parliament, the government finally agreed to end native forest logging in Victoria in 2030. This is a welcome acknowledgement that native forest logging has no future, but 10 years is far too long. In this time, whatever remaining forest can be logged, will be logged. This will decimate our water catchments, habitat for creatures like the Greater Glider and Leadbeater’s possum, and the invaluable carbon stores. There is a lot more to do to save our forests and we won’t stop fighting!

Ellen in forest

4. Supported Djab Wurrung people in their fight to save sacred land

The Greens acknowledge that sovereignty of this land was never ceded. This year we supported the Djab Wurrung people in their fight to protect sacred trees and land from being destroyed for a highway. We will continue to advocate for First Nations people’s right to protect their land and culture into the future.

3. Got funding for Kensington Primary School

Kensington Primary is a great school, but we know it urgently needs money for repairs and improvements. Over the past few years, I’ve been working closely with parents, the community and staff to make sure the State Government gives the school what they need. This year the school has had some important wins, including getting the women’s toilets fixed, securing funding to ensure the front entrance of the school is wheelchair accessible, and receiving an additional $60,000 maintenance funding (on top of the $200,000 they were promised last year). I know this isn’t enough to get the school’s facilities back up to scratch, but it’s great to see that progress is being made on the repairs the school desperately needs. I’ll continue working with the school community until we get the facilities that the teachers, staff and students at Kensington Primary deserve.

Kensington Primary School

2. Welcomed the plastic bag ban in Victoria

After years of campaigning out in the community, and pressure from the Greens in parliament, we finally saw the plastic bag ban come into play in Victoria. Plastic bags have been a huge source of pollution in our oceans and waterways, and kill millions of marine animals each year. Our Plastic Free Sea campaign activated thousands of Victorians to speak up, and our pressure on the government in the Northcote by-election in 2017 led to this good result. We’ll keep fighting to ban other forms of unnecessary plastic packaging, like wrapping on fruit and veggies.

Free calico bags

1. Secured more public housing in Victoria

Following constant pressure on the government, we achieved an increase in social housing at three public housing sites due to be redeveloped across Melbourne. Of course, this is a drop in the ocean when it comes to the huge need for affordable housing across Victoria, and we continue to oppose the government’s plans to sell off public housing. This issue will remain a priority for us going forward.

Housing listening post

This year we also saw important reforms come into effect that the Greens have long campaigned for, including dying with dignity laws and presumptive cancer compensation for firefighters.

So as you can see, 2019 has been a huge year and together we’ve been kicking goals!

Many of our achievements have also set us up for an exciting 2020. We’ll see the Victorian Parliament investigate the extinction crisis, and ensure the government acts on the recommendations put forward by the waste and recycling Inquiry. And we’ll continue to push for 100% renewable energy in Victoria and a transition away from coal. 

I look forward to updating you on our progress in the new year, and continuing to work together to build a sustainable and prosperous future for all Victorians. 

I hope you have a safe and relaxing summer.

Until 2020!

Ellen Sandell

Ellen Sandell

State MP for Melbourne


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