9 May 2023
LUKEWARM CLIMATE MEASURES WITH TOO MANY STILL OUT IN THE COLD
Government shows good intentions but falls short
Whilst acknowledging climate change, biodiversity and cost of living crises, the Government fails to move the dial very far in this budget and leaves many behind. Key initiatives announced fall short of providing the scale of investment recommended by leading experts to set Australia on a strong path to Net Zero, move our most vulnerable away from the poverty line and provide safeguards for our environment. Regrettably, the Government also misses an opportunity to future proof the Australian economy by capturing a fair share of revenue for Australian resources.
Zali Steggall MP said: “Climate change is Australia’s biggest national security risk but whilst $4.6 billion is allocated to climate measures, or just 0.2% of GDP, this is dwarfed by the 2.3% of GDP earmarked for defence. A more balanced approach is needed to ensure all national security risks are addressed.”
“I commend the government for new initiatives like the $2 billion for Hydrogen Head Start, $1.3 billion for the establishment of the Household Energy Upgrades Fund, as well as the creation of the Net Zero Authority, but greater ambition is required if we are to address climate change and be a clean energy superpower.”
“The Government has heard calls from the crossbench with a welcome $310m investment for electrification of small businesses but unfortunately, have missed the mark on household electrification, with $1.3billion falling well short of the proposed $3.5 billion identified as needed by Rewiring Australia.”
While there are welcome, timely measures to mitigate cost of living pressures, there are other areas where the response has been disappointing. Intergenerational inequity in addressing future challenges from cost of living, housing affordability, the mental health crisis and environmental degradation continues with this budget.
Steggall believes the extension of single parent payments to children up to the age of 14 will provide much needed security for 57,000 single parents, 90% of whom are women, and their families.
“Sadly, efforts to raise the rate of support for our most in need have fallen short. The Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee Report and the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce recommended a fortnightly increase in support payments to $68 per day, an increase of roughly $19 per day to help those in need move beyond the poverty line but the Government has settled on a measly $2.86 increase per day!”
Steggall welcomes the establishment of the Environment Protection Australia and the Environment Information Australia agencies, but overall, the Government fails to include meaningful funding for environmental protection despite the dire warnings in the State of the Environment Report.
“The Government’s much-publicised commitments to protect 30% of land and sea, achieving a nature positive Australia and preventing any new extinctions by 2030, however the money to support the achievement of those goals is glaringly absent”.
Creating a national legacy from the extraordinary natural resources boom should be a key priority, but the opportunity has been missed to create real reform to the Petroleum Resources Rent Tax.
“I’m disappointed that the PRRT changes fail to secure proportional revenue to the super profits being made. I have long been calling for reform to this tax so that Australia recovers a fair share of revenue from its resources, and provides an economic launch pad and legacy for future generations. Successive governments continue to squander the opportunity to build lasting wealth for our nation from the resource era boom.”
On the local front, the $45m earmarked for the Sydney Harbour trust, mostly for maintenance works at Cockatoo Island (outside of the Warringah) but also for other restorations at North Head and Middle Head (in Warringah) are welcome additions.
“A bigger investment in the Trust will be needed next year to implement the master plans under current review and restore and rehabilitate our iconic Australian landmarks at Middle Head and North Head.”
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