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Federal Budget 2024: Billion dollar detail to make Australia 'better for our kids' future'

Conservationists believe the 2024 budget is an improvement on previous years, but some are frustrated by its continued investment in fossil fuels.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivered the budget with his young children watching on. Source: AAP
Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivered the budget with his young children watching on. Source: AAP

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the 2024 Federal Budget would be about the "here and now" but also take into considerations and impact outcomes for "decades to come". While his focus on Tuesday night was clearly on cost of living, there was one major announcement that experts believe will help the environment and protect our kids' future.

Dubbed Future Made in Australia, the $22.7 billion investment aims to inject confidence into renewable energy manufacturing and exports to help fight climate change. Chalmers predicts this will help Australia undergo its "biggest transformation since the industrial revolution".

The Climate Council's head of policy Dr Jennifer Rayner said Labor's Future Made in Australia scheme sends a "really important signal" to the community about it's commitment to tackling emissions.

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"The direction of this budget makes very clear that the future of Australian industry is clean [and] that we are stepping up to seize our place in a decarbonising global economy," she said.

"It's really important now that we get bipartisan support [for this]. This should not be political, because it is for our kids. If we can move decisively today to build new clean industries that can power us past the end of fossil fuels, that's going to be great for cutting climate pollution today and better for our kids' future."

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While the Future Made in Australia investment has been welcomed by other conservation groups, they remain frustrated by the government's continued subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy welcomed Labor's clean energy billions, saying they will be "critical" if the country wants to slow climate change. In recent years she's marked budgets as a FAIL, but this year's addition had improved to the point she was willing to give it a PASS.

"It is starting to move in the right direction. But our government is still supporting coal and gas... and the future of our kids and future generations is at great risk if we do not tackle climate change head on right now," she said.

"April was the hottest April ever. Last year was the hottest year ever. And the last decade was hottest decade ever. So we're going in the wrong direction, our kids are going to be in strife."

The reaction from WWF-Australia's Head of Policy Quinton Clements was similar. But he raised specific concerns there was little new announced on Tuesday to tackle Australia's ballooning extinction crisis.

"There's really no new money for threatened species and ecological communities," he said. "So it's disappointing on that front."

Continuing to reflect on Australia's growing list of endangered species, he said the problem is a direct result of "decades of inadequate spending" on recovery and conservation. “We can turn this around, but it will take a dramatic increase in action and investment," he added.

Smoking pipes in Australia against a dark landscape.
Conservationists are concerned about Australia's continued investment in fossil fuels. Source: Getty

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the budget would provide "urgent investment in Australia’s research capabilities to better protect our natural world".

One surprise in the Federal Budget was $371.1 million over nine years to help fund research on remote Macquarie Island, which lies halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica.

But when it comes to protecting Australia's biodiversity, most of the government's other plans had already been announced. Major funding decisions include:

  • $134.2 million to strengthen and streamline environmental approval decisions for renewable energy and critical minerals projects.

  • $121 million for a national independent Environment Protection Agency.

  • $51.5 million for the new two years, and report on progress on national environmental goals.

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