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Issue #1455      19 May 2010

Budget 2010-11

Let down on environment

The Rudd government is happy to blame the international community and the Coalition for its failure to deliver a carbon pollution reduction scheme but there is little in the budget to boost its environmental credibility. A commitment of $652 for renewable energy projects is widely regarded as an inadequate and scattergun response to the climate change challenge. Other measures add to the evidence that Rudd is not going to campaign strongly on the environment at the federal election.

“The budget announcement of $652 million for renewable energy is welcome but it is a piecemeal approach to the problem when what we need is a price on greenhouse pollution,” Greens parliamentary leader Bob Brown said last week. The Greens have complained bitterly that the government refused to examine their carbon tax alternative to Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), which would have paid the biggest polluters in the country to carry on essentially as usual.

Critics have pointed out that the $652 million undertaking is to be paid out of the allocations that would have gone to the thwarted CPRS. There is $490 million earmarked for other climate and environmental projects but these are being bankrolled by $550 million worth of cuts to other projects. Oxfam has noted that there is no new money to assist developing countries deal with climate change. The $350 million allocated for 2012-13 follows the overall “steady as she sinks” approach of the budget.

The alleged super profits tax on the resource sector is not going to fund any major measures to tackle the climate emergency. There is a new cash grant for every $1 million spent on exploration and all the other incentives like the taxpayer funded infrastructure and the 38 cents a litre diesel rebate remain in place. The already limited cash dividend from the “uniform resource rent tax” is likely to go down sharply as the horse-trading with mining transnational CEOs gets underway. There will be little to spend on measures to protect the environment, especially seeing that the issue has now slipped down the government’s list of priorities.

Environmental advocate and former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery has expressed the disappointment of many at the government’s relative inaction over climate change and the environment in a recent comment to the media. “I could go to the Prime Minister now and say, ‘Look, why don’t we put some policies together to address climate change effectively’… And even if he accepted them, I wouldn’t have any faith that he would actually deliver on them because we’ve already seen this breach of faith.” 

Next article – Stop League Tables

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