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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Federal Budget: Infrastructure and the environment

The 2021–22 Federal Budget provides millions for Canberra infrastructure – expenditure welcomed by the ACT Government – but the Greens say investment in roads is short-sighted when other policies threaten the environment.

As announced earlier this week, the Federal Government had committed more than $167.3 million in this week’s Federal Budget for roads and light rail.

The budget items include duplicating the remaining sections of William Hovell Drive ($26.5 million); a ‘congestion-busting’ Gundaroo Drive duplication ($5 million); and upgrading the Beltana Road, Kallaroo, and Dapu Place road corridor in Pialligo ($2.5 million).

These are part of a $1.5 billion Commonwealth investment in ACT infrastructure since 2018 – “an absolute bonanza in spending,” Liberal Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja said.

More budget coverage:

Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee said it was great to see significant funding for major road upgrades across the ACT that had caused major headaches for Canberrans. “The upgrade to Beltana Road at Pialligo is greatly needed, and has been something that this ACT Government has failed to deliver for Pialligo residents and traders.”

Earlier this year, the Federal Government announced it would commit $137 million to upgrade Commonwealth Avenue Bridge (delivered by the National Capital Authority) and $132.5 million for Light Rail – Stage 2A.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he appreciated the Commonwealth Government’s recognition that Canberra’s light rail system was one worth investing in.

“Let us all hope that the light rail wars that have been a feature of Territory politics for decades are now finally over.”

Federal Greens candidates Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng and Tim Hollo believed, however, that the budget did little for the environment.

“Ploughing money into roads while holding back the electric vehicle revolution does nothing to address the climate crisis that became very real for Canberrans during last year’s apocalyptic Black Summer,” they said.

“We need to urgently cut transport emissions. The technology is there; the appetite from the community is there; but the Federal Government is standing in everyone’s way.”

The Government believes in a ‘gas-fired recovery’. Local oil refineries, the Government states, are part of Australia’s long-term fuel security. $58.6 million will go towards key gas infrastructure projects, unlocking new gas supply, and empowering gas customers, the Government announced. $30 million for early works on Australian Industrial Power’s Port Kembla gas generator project, and $74.3 million more will accelerate priority gas supply projects.

However, the Government will also invest $1.6 billion in clean energy technologies, to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

“Australia will play a leading global role by partnering with other nations to accelerate the commercialisation of low emissions technologies,” the Budget paper states.

A $1.2 billion Technology Co-Investment Facility will invest in priority technologies (hydrogen and carbon capture use and storage projects) and international partnerships on practical low emissions projects.

Previous budgets committed a $1.9 billion package over the 12 years from 2020–21 to accelerate technologies that deliver lower emissions, and $3.5 billion over the 15 years from 2018–19 for the Climate Solutions Package, which provides incentives to support abatement activities.

The Government has also committed $316.7 million to help industry and businesses reduce their emissions through voluntary action and adopting low emissions technology. At the same time, $49.3 million will be spent on battery and microgrid projects, and $24.9 million to make new gas generators hydrogen ready.

The Greens estimate that the Budget provides $1.1 billion more to coal and gas projects, totalling $51 billion over the next four years; 61.5 billion in corporate welfare; and $10 billion in fossil fuel subsidies to mining billionaires. (See tables below, based on analysis done by Green leader Adam Bandt’s office.)

“$51 billion in public money is being directed to the world’s most polluting corporations, the largest amount in recent memory,” Mr Hollo said.

The Greens were also dismayed that the Commonwealth Integrity Commission, an anti-corruption agency announced in 2018, would receive no funding this financial year or next.

“The previously promised funding has evaporated,” Mr Hollo said. “How can we expect to increase public trust, accountability, and transparency when the government won’t even live up to its promises to fund the weak version of an Integrity Commission they previously committed to?”

Greens Tables

 1.1 billion in new fossil fuel funding

New Fossil Fuel Funding (one-off)$ (millions)
Accelerate carbon capture, use and storage263.7
Four additional hydrogen hubs275.5
Northern Territory gas industry roads upgrades173.6
Implementing the below baseline crediting scheme279.9
Grant to Australian Industrial Power for a new 635 MW gas generator in Port Kembla30
Money for gas generators to become hydrogen ready24.9
Implementing the broader fuel security framework50.7
Support gas industry field appraisal in North Bowen and Galilee Basins15.7
Build capacity for the Northern Land Council to facilitate land use agreements for Beetaloo2.2
Advancing the Gas Fired Recovery – support key gas infrastructure and unlock new supply58.6
Further funding to support hydrogen export from brown coal in Latrobe Valley12.5
Further support for domestic fuels refinersnfp
Total (millions)1187.3

Fossil Fuel Subsidies (in the Forwards to 2025)

Diesel fuel rebate7,6238,0728,4509,1179,86035,499BP1 2021-22
Concessional excise on aviation gas7001,2701,3201,3801,3805,350Tax Concession Paper Jan 21
Concessional excise (alternative fuels)110140140150150580Tax Concession Paper Jan 21
Gas-fired recovery20.918.610.42.9na31.9BP2 2020-21
Liquid fuel stocks17.855.494.364.4na214.1BP2 2020-21
New energy technologies (carbon capture)16.716.616.60na33.2BP2 2020-21
New energy technologies (hydrogen)1413.913.913.9na41.7BP2 2020-21
Acceleted depreciation for coal/oil/gas industries1,3301,3301,3801,7201,9906,420PBO Costing
Deduction for coal/oil/gas exploration2002001477457531845PBO Costing
Advancing gas fired recovery18. 2021-22
Technology Investment Roadmap147.6125.8258.9229.5761.8BP2 2021-22
Improving Energy Affordability and Reliability-3.787.656.824.721.9191BP2 2021-22
Strategic Basin Plans14.60.60.615.8BP2 2021-22
Oil Stocks and Refining CapacitynfpnfpnfpnfpnfpBP2 2021-22
Total (millions)10,028.711,384.611,764.313,479.114,444.851,012.8
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