The nation’s top building sustainability body has given the government top points for last week’s Federal Budget with one exception – climate change policy.

Following the release of the Federal Budget last week, The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has welcomed the Morrison’s government’s emphasis on business - which, incidentally, will provide tax-breaks to purchase and install chillers, air handling units, pumps, and fans.

The GBCA’s CEO, Davina Rooney praised what she called a ‘landmark business investment package,’ arguing that it ticks the right boxes on driving business confidence.

“We applaud the Australian Government’s strong commitment to productivity through their multi-billion dollar investments in infrastructure and tax incentives, which will assist business confidence,” Rooney said.
“Prioritising economic stimulus through additional support for business is a must and this budget delivers.”

In particular, the GBCA was pleased by the way these new investments complemented the previously-announced $52.2 million fund established to increase the energy productivity of Australian buildings.

“This will enable businesses to capitalise on the jobs rich potential from investing in major energy efficiency upgrades and improvements to buildings an industry,”Rooney said.

“Not only could such investments create more than 91,000 job years of employment, they could deliver substantial secondary dividends including lower energy costs, improved resilience outcomes and reduced emissions.”

For those who’ve lost their notes from the budget lockdown, the measures announced include:

·         $1.43 billion over 10 years to continue funding the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
·         $10.6 million over five years from 2020–21 for the provision of grants to deliver community-based projects to prevent modern slavery. The grants will be used to support the National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020–25, including research to inform future policies and projects to develop supply chain resilience for Australian businesses.
·         $5.0 million in 2020–21 to establish an Advanced Manufacturing Facility in South Australia to facilitate the manufacturing and assembly of electric vehicles, and for a bi-directional vehicle-to-grid trial in South Australia to examine the concept and operation of systems which support solar home charging, grid services and virtual storage infrastructure.
·         $327.5 million to support projects under the new Perth City Deal that will focus on reactivating and revitalising the Perth CBD so that more people can live, work, learn and play in the city centre.
·         $36.6 million over two years from 2020–21 to maintain the timeliness of environmental assessments and undertake further reforms under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which have the opportunity to improve environmental and biodiversity outcomes. This funding includes $8.8 million over two years from 2020–21 to expedite the approvals of 15 major infrastructure projects.

Still, Rooney believes the Government could do a little more for climate change:

“With the delivery of this budget, the Government had an opportunity not only to create jobs but to also use its record spending to leverage greater sustainability outcomes,” she said.

“While moving towards this with their work on the Technology Investment Roadmap and Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings, there is scope to achieve much more in accelerating the transition to a net zero carbon economy.

“This means stipulating more public value from the investments which we saw announced. Whilst we welcome the timely investment in infrastructure there is no indication that these projects will be tied to standards for better environmental performance or encourage more decarbonisation at the community level.

“We have argued that done right, our response to the economic impacts of COVID–19 would not only minimise short to medium term pain, but also build the foundation for a healthier, more liveable and prosperous future.”

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