The mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) has confirmed what a low priority Australia’s air, reefs, forests and wildlife are to the Turnbull government, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.
“Some of the money the government has saved from cutting the Green Army will be redirected to Landcare, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Macquarie Island Research Station, but the majority – $224.7 million over four years – will get put in the bank,” said ACF’s economist Matthew Rose.
“Propping up the budget is taking priority over protecting and restoring of Australia’s air, rivers, forests and wildlife – a skewed set of priorities that will leave all Australians worse off.
“By 2019 Federal Environment Department spending will have declined by 38 per cent on 2013 levels while total government spending will have increased by 21.7 per cent.
“National spending on biodiversity has fallen to the lowest levels in more than a decade – with conservation getting just 5 cents in every 100 dollars spent by the government.
“Ripping more money away from nature protection and restoration shows a lack of foresight and leadership by the Turnbull government.
“We are experiencing a climate and extinction crisis in this country. Australians care about our wildlife, reefs and forests. The national government should be leading the charge with new programs to connect and restore habitats and cut pollution.
“The Environment Department budget will drop below $1 billion in 2017-18, at the same time the Government is considering giving a $1 billion loan to Adani, the proponent of a new massive coal mine slated for Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
“ACF welcomes the confirmation of funding for programs in the Murray-Darling Basin and the ongoing work of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
“However, in general, Australia’s national environment programs are grossly under-resourced and are being expected to shoulder a disproportionate share of budget repair.”