22 June 2021
Conservation SA State Budget Response
New Environmental Initiatives for 21/22
Recycling - $22.9m over four years for new plastic, glass and paper waste processing facilities.
Greener Neighbourhoods - $5.5m over four years ($1m extra in 21/22) for grants to local councils to increase urban tree canopy. Program extended to regional cities.
Railway Station Refresh Program ($28m in 21/22), Tea Tree Plaza Park ‘n Ride ($15m in 21/22) and further funding for the Gawler train line electrification program.
While the new spending on much-needed recycling facilities is welcome, overall, this is a deeply disappointing budget that doesn’t keep up with the huge challenges we face in the areas of climate and biodiversity protection.
In a year where the rest of the world has woken up to the climate emergency, the word ‘climate’ is not even mentioned in the Treasurer’s speech.
A few years ago, our state used to have a ‘Million Trees’ program. Now we have barely a ‘tens of thousands of trees’ program. Yet tree loss is decimating Adelaide as we cut down around 75,000 per year.
While any additional spending on planting new trees is welcome, and it makes sense to extend the Greener Neighbourhoods program to regional centres, an extra $1million for this upcoming year falls far short of the urgent tree canopy extension investment needed.
There was clearly a need to invest in new domestic recycling facilities, and we strongly welcome this big boost to the waste and recycling sector.
Our state is a national leader in recycling, and this much-needed investment will help respond to the challenges the waste industry faces now China has closed its doors to us exporting our waste to them for processing.
Conservation on Private Land
Disappointingly, there appears to be no funding to extend the hugely successful program to support private landowners to look after native vegetation on their property that Minister Speirs had previously championed.
It is very surprising to see this hugely popular partnership project that was delivering jobs in regional centres receive no further funding after this financial year.
Just one year into the program, the project partners will now need to prepare to wind it down.
While there is welcome investment in upgrading dowdy railway stations and increasing the size of the Tea Tee Plaza Park ’n Ride, and further works on the Gawler train line electrification, transport spending is again dominated by the eye-wateringly expensive upgrade to the North-South Corridor.
“While that spending on just one road remains in our budget there appears to be simply no room for any other cleaner transport investment.
“There is again a woeful lack of investment in cycling and walking infrastructure.
Electric Vehicle Road User Charge
And the electric vehicle road user charge again appears to be back on the table after the huge backlash following its inclusion in last years’ budget.
The Treasurer has indicated the Government will attempt to get this passed by Parliament this year – a poor policy measure that will be strongly resisted.
“The upgrade of Ayers House comes at the expense of the National Trust who are being kicked out after 50 years of service.
Environment Department core funding
“Further work continues on Environment Department programs announced in previous years, such as recovery programs on KI, the Parks 2025 nature-based tourism works, sand carting, Glenthorne National Park and the Botanic Gardens.
“However, the Environment Department again appears to be facing significant core budget savings cuts, including loss of staff, which hits hard their ability to respond to threatened species on the brink.”
For further comment contact Craig Wilkins on 0417 879 439