11 May 2021
A $15.2 billion boost for infrastructure, new agencies to enhance resilience and climate research, and $1.2 billion for green technology are among the measures welcomed by Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).
Chief Executive Officer Davina Rooney says GBCA is supportive of the Morrison Government’s investment in resilience and infrastructure as “both are essential for Australia’s economic recovery and long-term future”.
“The Australian Government has steered the nation through the rough seas of 2020. We have now emerged from the Covid-19 recession in a position to take serious steps forward on other priorities like climate action.”
The federal government is building on its 10-year $100 billion infrastructure pipeline with an extra $15.2 billion for projects drawn from Infrastructure Australia’s priority list, including Perth’s METRONET and Canberra Light Rail.
“We know investment in infrastructure is a great economic multiplier. Every dollar of public infrastructure investment can generate GDP increases that can add up to $4 of value over the life of the asset. Our opportunity is to ensure our infrastructure enhances social, environmental and governance outcomes alongside the financial,” Ms Rooney says.
“We welcome investment in projects that adopt sustainability enhancing approaches, in line with Infrastructure Australia’s Sustainability Principles, released in April to ensure a more consistent approach to infrastructure assessment. We also encourage third-party certification of these projects to ensure infrastructure investment delivers more than a short-term sugar hit.”
Investments that bolster community resilience are a key component of economic recovery and are welcomed by GBCA, Ms Rooney says.
A new National Recovery and Resilience Agency, backed up by $600 million in funding, has been established in response to key recommendations from the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. Similarly, $209.7 million has been allocated to the Australian Climate Service to bring together critical data from the nation’s key climate research institutions to inform long-term planning for infrastructure, housing and utilities.
“We strongly support both agencies and applaud the Morrison Government’s commitment to put significant funding behind them,” Ms Rooney explains.
“Establishing both these agencies will support Australia’s disaster preparedness and the quality of information available to predict and respond to stresses and shocks. As these agencies look to improve Australia’s resilience, the next logical step will be to incorporate resilience into the National Construction Code – a measure GBCA has advocated for many years.”
Building on the $1.9 billion Technology Investment Roadmap, released in 2020, the government will provide a further $1.2 billion to fund priority technologies including clean hydrogen and energy storage.
“While we welcome investment in clean, green technologies, we note that $58.6 million has been allocated to gas-led projects and carbon capture and storage. Neither of these measures meet the gold standard of sustainability. Investment in renewables would have delivered a far bigger bang for buck.”
GBCA is supportive of the Morrison Government’s $316.7 million commitment to help businesses and industry lower their emissions. Climate Active certification will also increase with the help of $10.4 million over four years.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg outlined an additional $2.7 billion to extend the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program. The federal government has also doubled its commitment to JobTrainer with an additional $500 million, to be matched by state and territory governments.
Ms Rooney says green skills development should be an important component of both programs.
“Skills gaps are already emerging as investors demand green assets, employees seek healthy workplaces and as Australians look to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. As we rebuild for resilience, we will need a greater focus on green skills.”
Other welcome measures include $67 million to strengthen support for the National Waste Policy Action Plan, and an additional $5.9 million will support third round of investments in the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund. An extension of the instant asset write off scheme will allow more businesses to invest in major energy efficiency upgrades.
“While we are generally supportive of the Morrison Government’s funding commitments, we would like to see further steps taken to stimulate a sustainable recovery,” Ms Rooney says.
“According to the Global Recovery Observatory, France and Germany have allocated almost half of recovery spending to economic solutions that also reduce emissions, compared with Australia’s two per cent. There are without doubt further opportunities to reduce our emissions. Without addressing our long-term sustainability, we can’t build a resilient nation.”