Thursday, 24 November 2022
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Consideration in Detail
It's a great pleasure to contribute to this consideration in detail on the budget measures connected to my portfolios, environment and water. I'll also touch on the appropriations that fall under the responsibility of the Minister and the Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy.
It has been just six months since the new Labor government was elected, and we're absolutely getting on and delivering our commitments. The October budget is a demonstration of that. Australians tell me that they can already see the difference. The environment is back. People are telling me that it's a breath of fresh air and what our country desperately needs. Obviously, we can't fix a decade of Liberal Party neglect and damage to our environment overnight, but we've hit the ground running. We have higher ambition on climate change; a clear path to net zero; no new extinctions; a crackdown on gases that are bad for the ozone layer; new laws that better protect the environment and give businesses faster, clearer decisions; an Environmental Protection Agency; a tough cop on the beat to enforce those new laws; and a commitment to protect 30 per cent of our land and 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030. We've announced a new nature repair market to reward farmers and other landholders for their work in restoring and protecting the environment. We've committed to expanding blue carbon projects, more mangroves and sea grasses, making our oceans cleaner and getting carbon out of the atmosphere, reducing problematic plastics, developing environmentally friendly plastic alternatives, and making recycling easier for families and businesses. There's always more to do, but we are getting on with the job.
This budget delivers $1.8 billion in funding into the future for the environment. This is a downpayment on our commitment to prioritising the environment after almost a decade of neglect under the former government. The Australian government is delivering on its election promises. There is a range of targeted investments to reverse the declines seen under the previous government. The Australian government will build on the commitments in this budget when we respond to the Samuel review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in the coming weeks.
In this budget, we see a record $1.2 billion invested to protect and restore our iconic Great Barrier Reef, including $204 million of additional new funding; $90 million over six years to employ and upskill 1,000 Landcare rangers to help conserve and restore our environment; an additional $66½ million over six years to support 10 new Indigenous protected areas, bringing us closer to the government's commitment to protect and conserve 30 per cent of our land and ocean by 2030—this brings the total investment to Indigenous protected areas to $235 million over five years—$14.7 million to protect First Nations cultural and heritage places; $224½ million for actions to help threatened species, places and recovery activities prioritised under the Threatened Species Action Plan, including targeted koala programs, the eradication of gamba grass and yellow crazy ants; and $10.8 million to improve ocean and marine park management in Australia and strengthen our international environmental leadership in ocean related policy. There will be $91.1 million over six years for the first round of our $200 million election promise to improve local waterways through the Urban Rivers and Catchments Program.
Turning to dam and water infrastructure, the Australian government is investing to secure our precious natural water resources for future generations. We will invest more than a billion dollars in water infrastructure projects, including Paradise Dam, Cairns Water Security Stage 1, the Mount Morgan water supply, Big Rocks Weir, groundwater improvements and water efficiency on the lower Burdekin, the Pipeline to Prosperity in Tasmania, the Darwin regional water supply, Adelaide River science project, the Nyngan to Cobar pipeline, strategic planning for improving water security in Queensland, and so much more. We've also put aside a billion dollars for future water infrastructure projects that are properly costed and will deliver results.
The 2023 budget delivers long overdue investments in Australia's obligations to meet our climate challenge and energy transformation. These investments are central to our economic plan, reducing emissions and developing new industries and jobs as a renewable energy superpower. The international fuel crisis triggered by Russia's illegal war has shown the consequence of a decade of underinvestment and neglect in renewables, the cheapest form of new energy.