As climate change, deforestation and biodiversity loss continue to devastate the planet, the Federal Government has unveiled a budget they say will deliver “real action where it counts”.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley declared her plan for the next four years will invest in “practical on-ground action” that will be informed by science, communities and traditional owners.
Central to her environmental response are five key announcements previously declared:
$1 billion to protect the Great Barrier Reef
$12.4 million in relief for reef tourism operators
$60 million for a plastic technology fund targeting hard-to-recycle materials
$128.5 million to advance environmental law reform
$804.4 million to strengthen scientific advancements in Antarctica
Also included in the budget will be an additional $100 million to extend the Environmental Restoration Fund (ERF) for another three years.
The government also plans to invest $11 million over two years to reform Indigenous cultural heritage reforms.
“Through this year’s Budget, we are doing even more to tackle the scourge of plastics in our environment, and we are protecting threatened species,” Ley said.
“The Budget provides new funding for Antarctic science and leadership, the future of the Great Barrier Reef, environmental reform and the modernisation of Indigenous heritage protection.
“This is a budget that delivers real action where it counts, a budget that works with local communities to deliver a stronger and healthier environment for all Australians.”
Environment set to be key election issue
The state of the environment announcement comes amid ongoing flooding across northern NSW and South-East Queensland.
Following the unprecedented 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires, climate change has become a key election issue.
The Coalition is being challenged by high-profile independents in a number of key NSW and Victorian seats, who are running on platforms focused on climate change, while in Queensland the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef is set to be a hot topic.
While Australia has committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, its emissions-reduction goals have been criticised at home and abroad, including most recently by the United Nations Secretary-General.
Despite the controversy of coal and gas, the Morrison Government has consistently doubled down on its support for these industries.