Environmental forum sparks Green outcry

A WAR of words has broken out over a planned environmental forum in Ballarat.

Entitled “Our Future, Our Environment, a Call for Local Action”, the think tank has been organised by Buninyong Nationals candidate Sonia Smith.

However, father-of-one Jon Stanger, who is a Greens party member, sent Ms Smith an email on Tuesday saying he found it “bizarre in the extreme” a Nationals candidate would have “the temerity” to organise an environmental forum.

“Is this some kind of joke? The only thing The Nationals have done to our environment is destroy it,” the email read.

Mr Stanger also said he was “appalled” to see people representing organisations he has supported “attending this ridiculous PR exercise”.

Panellists at the Sunday forum at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka include representatives from Landcare Australia, Central Highlands Agribusiness Forum, Ballarat Environment Network, the Great Dividing Trail Association and BREAZE Energy Solutions.

All state political candidates have also been invited to attend, though none as yet has responded.

Mr Stanger said he sent the message because he was concerned about the world his daughter had been born into and he didn’t believe The Nationals cared about the environment.

He said, while the email was strongly worded, it was part of “friendly to-ing and fro-ing” between himself and Ms Smith.

“What Sonia Smith should be doing is talking to Premier Napthine and Prime Minister Abbott about their policies, not pretending to care about the environment.”

However, Ms Smith said the forum was simply a chance for the community to discuss the environment.

“All parties should find the environment important. We can’t just abandon it and say the Greens will look after it,” Ms Smith said.

Ms Smith said it was ironic the site of Australia’s first democratic revolution was shaping up for “another stoush”.

“It’s ironic he’s having his say but trying to deny other people their right to have a say.”

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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