Conservation SA breaks down the 2022-23 State Budget and highlights the pros and cons for our environment.
- Strongly welcome the full delivery of Labor’s election commitments, funded by Treasury (rather than from departmental savings). This includes investment in Aboriginal Rangers, conservation on private land and a range of community groups, and the creation of the Commissioner for the River Murray
- Great to see the formal scrapping of the Electric Vehicle Tax
- Welcome the pause in the N/S Motorway and recommend a deeper re-think of this project
- Disappointed in the loss of the Home Battery Scheme, the Grid Scale Storage Scheme and support for installation of Electric Vehicle home charging
- Surprisingly, greening of the city has been hit hard, with two programs costing $14.5 million cut
- There is a net increase in operational funding of $27m over the four years in the Department of Environment & Water. However, DEW, Green Industries SA and the EPA have all been hit with significant ‘efficiency savings’.
Quotes attributed to Craig Wilkins, Conservation SA Chief Executive:
Biodiversity & Nature
As promised, there is funding for the following election commitments in 2022/23: Aboriginal Rangers ($500K), Citizen Science Fund ($500K), Commissioner for the Murray ($500K), Heritage Agreements ($1.5m), Pastoral Lands ($250K), Coast Protection Review ($200K), RSPCA, Landcare and CCSA ($250K each) and Friends of Parks ($750K).
“It’s really good to see the full delivery of Labor’s election commitments, including the creation of a Commissioner for the River Murray, and welcome support to voluntary groups and landowners”
“Creating a Commissioner to advocate for SA’s interests in the face of continual challenge to the Murray Darling Basin Plan by upstream states is a smart move”
“As the peak body for the environment in SA, we thank and respect Environment Minister Susan Close for valuing and investing in independent community advocacy”
However, two greening programs: Greening Adelaide’s Heart ($10m over two years) and Greener Neighbourhoods ($4.5m over three years) have been scrapped.
“We know we need to rapidly increase green and tree canopy in Adelaide to prepare for global heating. Trees are essential air conditioners for our city streets, and we are far from meeting our green canopy targets. Now is not the time to scrap programs that increase greening”
Overall, there is a net increase in DEW operational funding of $27m over the next four years. However, the Department is already wearing operational savings of another $7m over the next 3 years built in from previous budgets. This is on top of $34m in efficiency cuts over the last 4 years, and around $160m over the last decade.
The Department has lost over 500 FTE over the last 12 years and been reduced by around 40%.
“In the midst of an extinction and climate crisis, and with the Murray Darling Basin Plan on a knife-edge, we desperately need our Environment Department to have the capacity to plan ahead, not be scrambling to play catch up”
“We hope the Malinauskas Government will see the value of good science to inform decision making and invest in the rebuild of the Environment Department’s core operations over coming years”
Climate & Energy
This budget confirms the scrapping of the Marshall’s Government’s Electric Vehicle Tax.
However, the Grid Scale Storage Scheme ($20m), the Home Battery Scheme ($19m) and a subsidy scheme for home electric vehicle smart charging ($11.2m) have also been cut.
And support continues for further gas exploration, despite the International Energy Agency and the IPCC saying there is no longer room for further fossil fuel exploration if the world is serious about addressing the climate emergency.
“It’s very disappointing to see these programs helping households shift to cleaner energy and transport cut for budget savings”
“South Australia is a global leader in clean transition on the back of these types of programs, and we risk losing our leadership as other places quickly catch up”
“In the wake of the recent Federal Election where the community clearly expressed a desire for governments to move much faster in response to the climate emergency, we need to be doing everything possible to shift our energy system from dirty to clean”
“Renewable Hydrogen is an important step, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of support for households”
“A focus on assisting access for low income households to embrace clean energy technology is also missing”
Spending on the North South Motorway is being paused to enable more consultation with affected communities.
“We strongly welcome a pause in the N/S Motorway project”
“This roadway is a Godzilla which will chew up every spare bit of federal and state transport funding over the next decade”
“There simply won’t be any capacity to consider the necessary shift to smarter and cleaner forms of transport, including cycling, walking and public transport”
“Transport is the largest and fastest growing share of our carbon emissions”
“With this week’s declaration by the Malinauskas Government of a climate emergency, we need to urgently reduce our transport emissions”
“Scrapping this runaway project and re-using the funds to shift our dirty truck and car dominated transport system to cleaner, faster and healthier options would transform our city for the better”