In its second Budget, the Abbott Government has again chosen the interests of the big polluters over those of the community, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

“That there is little in this budget for nature and climate action is sadly not a surprise, but the disregard shown by the Abbott Government for the wellbeing of Australians who depend on a healthy, safe environment – that’s every one of us – is shocking,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy. 

Fossil fuel subsidies

  • No reform of the Fuel Tax Credit diesel subsidy, which will cost Australians nearly $33 billion over the forward estimates.
  • No change to accelerated depreciation (statutory effective life caps), which allows resource companies to effectively defer paying tax, costing $7 billion over the forward estimates.

“Motorists will continue to pay 38.9 cents and more in tax for every litre of fuel they buy, while some of the world’s largest mining companies, such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Glencore Xstrata, pay no tax at all on the fuel they use,” Ms O’Shanassy said.  

“The Fuel Tax Credits scheme is among the top 20 biggest expenses in the Budget. The government spends more on diesel fuel subsidies than on public schools.  The government had an opportunity to restructure this subsidy, save $15 billion of taxpayers’ money and reduce pollution by up to 9 per cent, but it chose not to.”

Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)

  • $1.5 billion to pay companies to reduce emissions via the ERF. 

”The ERF does nothing to restructure our economy to achieve meaningful cuts to greenhouse gas pollution and it is unlikely to meet what is already an inadequate target to cut pollution by 2020.”

Green Army

  • Cuts to the Green Army of $73.2 million over four years. 
  • This money was originally taken from Landcare, which over the past two years has had funding cuts of almost $500 million.

Northern Australia

  • Up to $5 billion in concessional loans to build ports, railways, pipelines and power stations in northern Australia.
  • $100 million set aside for the beef industry in northern Australia.

Great Barrier Reef

  • An extra $100 million for initiatives aimed at protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

“ACF welcomes the extra funding for the Great Barrier Reef.  We are concerned about the $5 billion in concessional loans for ports, railways and other projects in northern Australia, which could be used to allow coal from the Galilee Basin to be transported across the reef.”

Healthy ecosystems

  • Cuts to funding for the National Heritage Trust component of the Landcare program of $12.3 million over five years.
  • Cut to funding for water buy backs of $22.7 million over two years from 2017-18.

“Cutting funding for water buy backs in the Murray-Darling Basin could jeopardise the full implementation of the plan, which has bi-partisan support.  This is a dangerous decision as Australia moves into an El Nino cycle.”

Cuts to departments and jobs that help protect the environment

Over the past two budgets, the Government has cut jobs and resources from the Environment Department and key agencies including the Bureau of Meteorology, the Director of National Parks, the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Regulator, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, CSIRO, Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

“The Abbott Government has consistently removed resources from areas that protect our environment and directed them to areas that damage it.

“Budgets are about making choices.  Sadly, the Abbott Government has chosen the interests of the big polluters over those of the community in this Budget,” Ms O’Shanassy said.

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910 or Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.