The gas industry, mining companies and big polluters are the clear winners from this year’s federal budget, while climate action is the clear loser, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

“We know the best way to cut the pollution driving global warming is to move away from burning coal and gas, yet this budget provides funding that locks in new fossil fuel projects,” said ACF’s Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy.  

“The gas industry is the big winner with $52.8 million allocated to accelerating gas projects, continuing gas research and re-establishing the east coast gas market.”

(The fossil fuel industry doubled its donations to the major parties in the past four years.)

“We welcome ongoing funding for Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), but of the $1.4 billion announced for ARENA only $223.9 million is allocated over the forward estimates,” Ms O’Shanassy said. 

“Mining companies are winners, taking around 45% of the fuel tax credit scheme, which is worth $15 billion to them over the forward estimates.

“The fuel tax credit subsidy, which allows multinational mining companies like Rio Tinto, BHP and Glencore to pay zero tax on their off-road diesel use, will cost Australians $33 billion across the forward estimates.

“Coal mining companies alone will receive more than $1.2 billion a year in diesel fuel subsidies over the forward estimates.  

“The budget puts $50 million over three years to further experiments with speculative carbon capture and storage, even though CCS has already received $1.3 billion in taxpayer support with virtually no commercial success.

“It is outrageous that public money is allocated towards upgrading the Vales Point coal-fired power station on the NSW central coast.

“We welcome some of the new investments in potentially environmentally-friendly initiatives, including microgrid studies that could support clean energy communities and investment in land stewardship and environment restoration.

“We welcome any funding to help protect and restore nature, including money for protecting marine life.

“Despite Australia’s outstanding natural beauty, not enough is being invested in the protection of our unique wildlife and special places. 

“Since Australia’s national environment laws came into effect 20 years ago, threatened species habitat larger than Tasmania has been bulldozed and logged. 

“ACF believes annual investment of $1 billion a year is needed to restore our landscapes and stop extinction.”

ACF was denied access to this year’s pre-budget lock-up.

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