In his first budget, Malcolm Turnbull has chosen the interests of big polluters over those of the community, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.
Under the Turnbull government, spending on the environment is forecast to fall by 17 per cent by 2019-20.
“Prime Minister Turnbull has missed the opportunity to show leadership on nature and climate action in his first budget,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
“This is not a Budget that will lead Australia out of a climate and extinction crisis.”
Fossil fuel subsidies
“Motorists will continue to pay almost 40 cents in tax on 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.
“By giving public money to big polluters, the Fuel Tax Credit subsidy takes away money from health, education and protecting our environment.”
Great Barrier Reef
“The Government has allocated $35.6 million of existing environment funds to the Great Barrier Reef over four years. While desperately needed, this should be new money, rather than come at the expense of other environment programs.
“New funding of $40 million for the Reef Trust doesn’t flow until 2019-20. The bulk of the Government’s announced spending for the reef ($95.4 million) occurs after the forward estimates – in other words, in two election’s time.
“While the Great Barrier Reef suffers its worst bleaching event ever, the Government has failed to commit substantial funds in the coming financial year,” Ms O’Shanassy said.
A year after abolishing the National Water Commission, the Government has announced a $2 billion subsidised loan facility for the development of new dams. At the same time the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder faces an uncertain future with funding for its operation drastically reduced by 91 per cent from 2017-18 onwards (from $11.7 million in 2015-16 to $1.4 million in 2017-18).
Similarly the Murray-Darling Basin Authority faces uncertainty, with federal funding for the MDBA halved from 2017 (from $84.7 million in 2016-17 to $37.3 million in 2017-18).
“This budget could have been used to articulate a plan for a clean energy transformation for Australia – one that will see our country get off coal, get into renewables, help workers with the transition and make our energy systems much more efficient.”
“Despite recently appointing Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner, the government has not dedicated new money to threatened species recovery. The government continues to rely on broad and imprecise programs, such as the Green Army, to try to deliver these outcomes,” Ms O’Shanassy said.
Overall environment spending
“Under the Turnbull government, spending for the environment is forecast to fall by 17 per cent by 2019-20 (Budget Statement 1-9 – Table 3). This is hugely concerning at a time when Australia’s reefs, rivers, forests and lands face unprecedented threats. We desperately need to spend more on our reefs, rivers, forests and lands, not less.”