As the federal budget approaches, new polling shows the Turnbull government is out of touch with Australians on environmental issues.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is concerned that Budget 2017 will be another terrible budget for our rivers, reefs, forests and wildlife. As government cuts continue unabated, new polling released today shows Australians have a severe lack of confidence in the Turnbull government’s ability to protect nature, with only 40% saying they even have a plan.
Contrary to the Turnbull government’s actions, Australians support increased investment to protect nature (60%), want big business (67%) or polluters (76%) to foot the bill, and are more likely to support parties who have a comprehensive national plan (74%). The full tables are available on request.
“We’ve got a Prime Minister and an Environment Minister who spend more time barracking for a dangerous, polluting coal mine than they do for protecting our environment,” ACF Chief Executive Officer Kelly O’Shanassy said.
“The Prime Minister and his government simply don’t have a plan to protect our environment. Their credibility is in tatters. They’re completely out of touch with what Australians expect their elected representatives to do.
“It’s clear that the Turnbull government's appalling record on climate change, cutting funds to protect nature and the Adani coal mine is eroding trust on environment.
“The only way for the Prime Minister to restore his credibility on environment and climate change is to reverse cuts and develop a comprehensive national plan to protect nature and move to clean energy.
“Spending to protect nature for future generations has been under attack for years. It’s not surprising that Australia’s natural environment is in decline and the government is failing in its duty to protect and restore it.
“Pollution continues to increase and species continue to be lost. We cannot afford further reduction in environment protection. The cost to nature and future generations is higher than any budget can account for.
“Australians care about our rivers, reefs, wildlife and forests and expect governments to protect it for their children and grandchildren. They understand the value of nature in a way that the Prime Minister and his Environment Minister doesn’t appear to.
“As a first critical step, the government must phase out taxpayer subsidies for the big polluters including the notorious Diesel Fuel Tax Credit scheme.
“Polluters and big business should be made to pay for the damage they cause to the environment, not everyday Australians. That’s the government’s responsibility to ensure," Ms. O'Shanassy said.
Since the Liberal National Coalition came into Government in September 2013, there has been a serious decline in environment spending even though overall budget spending has increased. Specifically, the environment budget has declined by 20% on 2013 levels and is projected to decline by 38% by 2019. At the same time, overall budget spending is projected to increase by 22% on 2013 levels through to 2019.
Federal funding for biodiversity conservation programs will amount to just five cents in every 100 dollars of taxpayer expenditure by 2018; meanwhile, pollution continues to rise. It is clear that our natural environment is shouldering a disproportionate share of ‘budget repair’.
If biodiversity and habitat loss are to be halted or reversed, and Australia is to transform its economy and energy systems in line with the Paris Climate Agreement commitments, then the federal government must develop a plan for Australia’s environment and invest.
ACF's pre-budget analysis and the full polling tables are available on request.