Federal Budget 2023-24 contains ‘the good, the bad and the timid’, according to the national environment group, the Australian Conservation Foundation.

“The Albanese government is making good, solid investments in the clean energy revolution with funds to build transmission infrastructure, attract clean capital to Australia and help workers through the energy transition,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“ACF welcomes the $2bn Hydrogen Headstart program to accelerate the development of Australia’s clean export industry.

“We also welcome the funding for climate adaptation and disaster relief, which will help communities affected by extreme weather events in Australia and through the Pacific.

“Making offshore gas companies pay more tax is a step in right direction, but further changes are needed so Australians get a fair share of the gas industry’s windfall profits.

“The investment in energy efficient homes is smart because it eases cost-of-living pressures for households every single month.

“While there are positive announcements on nature – including funding to reform our failed national environment law and a new national EPA – the government’s approach to the biodiversity crisis could best be described as timid.

“Disappointingly, spending on a variety of initiatives, including protection and conservation of the environment and pollution abatement, are projected to decrease to 2026-27.

“Experts say $2bn a year is needed to restore Australia’s degraded ecosystems and help threatened species recover, but this budget acts like the biodiversity crisis isn’t a real crisis.

“Yet, in the last 12 months glossy black cockatoos and pink cockatoos have joined greater gliders, gang gang cockatoos and dozens of other birds, animals and plants on the threatened species list. Even koalas are now endangered in Queensland, NSW and the ACT.

“Half (49.3%) of Australia’s GDP is directly dependent on nature, so investing in its health is good for the budget bottom line – not to mention good for physical and mental health.

“While $2bn a year over 30 years to protect nature might sound like a lot, the government is prepared to spend six times more on nuclear submarines over the same period.

“The really ugly part of this budget is the continuation of subsidies to big, multinational companies encouraging them to use more coal, oil and gas.

“The fuel tax credit scheme will cost Australians $9.6bn in the next year and $41bn over the forward estimates.”

The good

  • $83.2m over four years for National Net Zero Authority
  • $1.6bn to improve energy efficiency, including in social housing and for small businesses, as negotiated between Labor and the Greens
  • Establishment of the Capacity Investment Scheme for clean energy and storage
  • $80m over four years to support supply of cheap, clean and reliable energy across Australia
  • $1.4bn is now allocated under the $1.9bn Powering the Regions Fund for clean energy growth
  • $61.4m over four years for the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation
  • $121m to establish a national EPA and $51.5m to establish Environment Information Aust
  • $18.1m over two years to implement recommendations of the Chubb Review into carbon credits
  • $302.1m over five years to support a climate-smart sustainable agricultural sector
  • $236m over 10 years to remediate high priority flood warning infrastructure
  • $14.2m over four years to support sustainable finance agenda, including $8.3m for sovereign green bond program and $4.3m to police greenwashing
  • $163.4m for the Australian Institute of Marine Science to deliver projects to protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef
  • $355.1m over four years for National Parks, including Uluru and Kakadu
  • $118m in additional funding over six years to improve local waterways
  • $146.8m over four years towards the sustainability of the Murray-Darling Basin

The bad

  • Approximately $50bn in fossil fuel subsidies, including $41bn for the notorious Fuel Tax Credit scheme over the forward estimates
  • $6.7m to deliver a Future Gas Strategy
  • $4.5bn over 10 years to support acquisition of nuclear submarines
  • Undisclosed funding for ANSTO to develop a business case for a new facility to support Australia’s nuclear science capability
  • $162m over seven years to continue the sub-optimal Kimba radioactive waste plan

The timid

  • Petroleum Resource Rent Tax reforms are a step in the right direction, but should go further
  • $28m over two years for National Climate Risk Assessment and National Adaptation Plan; No other funding for National Climate Adaptation program
  • A modest $20.9m over five years for initiatives to decarbonise transport and infrastructure, including $7.4m to develop fuel efficiency standards
  • $439.3m over five years to support programs that repair World Heritage properties, restore Ramsar wetlands and conserve threatened species and habitats, when vastly more is needed
  • $7.7m for a Nature Repair Market, even though it’s unclear if linking ‘nature repair’ to the generation of offsets will facilitate the destruction of more existing wildlife habitat
  • Only $40.4m to support the continuation of Indigenous Rangers Biosecurity Program and $1.2m for five new Junior Ranger sites in Central Australia.

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email [email protected]