Billions to build a clean energy economy and a resilient, sustainable nation

10 May 2023

The Albanese Government has allocated billions to new measures that will supercharge the net zero transition and build a resilient, sustainable nation.
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has applauded the “ambition and vision” of the Albanese Government for a Budget that aims to strike the right balance between short- and long-term challenges.
“We have spent 20 years championing a greener, healthier, more resilient built environment – and this is the response we have been waiting for,” says the GBCA’s Chief Executive, Davina Rooney.

Energy efficiency

“Billions in direct energy bill relief will ease the cost-of-living crisis in the short-term. But the Australian Government is also pouring billions into investments that drive down energy costs in the long-term,” Ms Rooney says.

Treasurer Chalmers announced $3 billion in direct energy bill relief for eligible households and small businesses. But alongside this, funding of $1.3 billion will establish the Household Energy Upgrades Fund which will support home upgrades that improve energy performance and save energy. This includes $1 billion for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to provide low-cost loans for double‑glazing, solar panels and other improvements that will improve the energy efficiency of homes.

“The Treasurer noted energy efficiency of Australian homes is a ‘big part’ of the energy affordability story. As the National Energy Performance Strategy takes shape, measures like these play a mission critical role in cutting carbon and energy bills as well as creating healthier, more comfortable homes for Australians.”

The Budget allocates $4 billion to further the Australian Government’s ambition to be an “renewable energy superpower”, bringing the total investment to more than $40 billion. This includes funding for green industries and manufacturing, as well as investment for firmed-up renewable energy projects.

The budget also allocates more than $36 million over four years to expand and modernise the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards program and the Nationwide House Energy Rating scheme (NatHERS).

“We commend this step towards a single national rating for home energy performance. Creating a single national rating to empower owners, buyers and renters was a key recommendation in our recent report, Every Building Counts.”

Net Zero Authority

A new Net Zero Authority, announced the week before the Budget, will be kick-started with $83.2 million over four years. The authority will support workers in emissions-intensive sectors to access new employment and skills, and will coordinate government programs to help regions and communities create new clean energy industries.

“As we move towards net zero at speed, we must achieve a ‘just transition’. The investment in the Net Zero Authority demonstrates the Albanese Government’s determination to ensure the clean energy transition leaves no one behind.

Sustainable urban development

A national approach to sustainable urban development, backed by $687.4 million over six years, has also been welcomed by the GBCA.

“We are particularly pleased to see nearly $160 million over four years to establish the Urban Precincts and Partnerships Program. This collaborative approach will help communities identify and respond to place-based priorities,” Ms Rooney says.

An additional $11 million over four years will establish the Cities and Suburbs Unit within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts to deliver the National Urban Policy and the regular State of Cities report.

“This is a long-awaited reboot of the Major Cities Unit led by the Prime Minister in his former role as Infrastructure Minister.”

Sustainable finance

The government has allocated $8.3 million over four years to develop and issue sovereign green bonds, $1.6 million to co‑fund the development of an Australian sustainable finance taxonomy, and $4.3 million to bolster ASIC’s enforcement action against greenwashing.

“Demand for green finance is growing rapidly. These measures will help to establish a common language for sustainable finance and make it easier for investors to back climate-ready buildings.”

Green Star leadership

The government will extend the clean building managed investment trust (MIT) withholding tax concession to data centres and warehouses – and will raise the minimum energy efficiency requirements for existing and new clean buildings to a 6 Star Green Star or 6 Star NABERS.

“This decision will support investment in energy efficient commercial buildings, and in turn, reduce energy usage and energy bills for commercial tenants,” Ms Rooney says.

Social infrastructure 

Significant funds have been earmarked for social infrastructure investment, including $3.4 billion for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Olympic Games leave legacies that echo for generations. Green Star was embedded into Brisbane’s bid with a promise that all new vertical infrastructure and significant upgrades would target 6 Star Green Star. This commitment will not only support a ‘climate positive Games’. It will also provide further impetus for green social infrastructure.”

Prioritising resilience and nature 

There is also $214 million for a ‘Nature Positive Plan’ and $28 million for Australia’s first National Climate Risk Assessment and a National Adaptation Plan.

“Making our buildings and communities resilient and nature positive are two critical areas of focus for GBCA and for the development of the Green Star rating tools,” Ms Rooney says.

A transformational agenda

“The Australian Government has a huge agenda ahead to transform the nation’s economy. This budget lays a strong foundation and we look forward to continuing to work with the government to support this visionary and ambitious agenda.

"As we get deeper into what Treasurer Chalmers has called the 'defining decade', the government is making a definitive commitment across a range of measures, that will help Australia to tackle the complex challenges of a changing climate and take advantage of the many opportunities for our economy to grow,” Ms Rooney concludes.