The Federal Government's increased focus on the environment and infrastructure in the recent budget announcement has been welcomed by a few key industry bodies, but there are fears it won't do enough for carbon reduction.
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) for one, is dissapointed that the budget doesn't incorporate funding for carbon abatement.
Although Australia’s sustainable built environment industry received favourable consideration in budgetary allocations with funds to drive the national cities agenda, investment in urban forests and a recommitment to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the GBCA says they're disappointed that there is no new funding for carbon abatement.
In his first Budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison has allocated $50 billion for ‘critical infrastructure’ to reduce congestion, improve safety and better connect Australian products to domestic and international markets.
Welcoming new investment in infrastructure that supported more liveable and productive communities, GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew observed that the $3.4 billion allocation to urban rail projects reflected a renewed national focus on Australian cities.
Madew, however, underlined the need for this critical infrastructure to meet best practice benchmarks for sustainability. Only then will Australian taxpayers know they’ve invested in infrastructure that is resilient and delivers the best value for decades to come.
An additional $20 million has been allocated in the 2017 Budget for the 20-million tree program bringing the total investment to $70 million.
Commenting on the Turnbull Government’s promise to plant 20 million native trees by 2020, Madew says the investment in urban forests is important, but they would like to see the development of a national green infrastructure policy that goes further than being just about trees, and includes boosting biodiversity, enhancing the public domain, and building more resilient cities.
The GBCA has also welcomed the Turnbull Government’s commitment to retaining the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Madew explained that the $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund to assist emerging clean energy technologies provided a much-needed investment injection and greater certainty for the industry.
The Turnbull Government’s whole-of-government approach to cities has also seen an allocation of $4.6 million to expand the Cities Taskforce and drive implementation of the government’s city building.
Noting that cities also provided significant opportunities for reducing carbon emissions, Madew expressed her disappointment about the absence of new funding or incentives in the Budget for the property and construction industry, or any other industry to assist Australia achieve its international commitments for emissions reductions and to transition to a low-carbon economy.
She concluded that the GBCA will continue to work constructively with all levels of government and industry to deliver on these announcements and build a better, more sustainable future for all Australians.