Cities, urban forests and clean energy the budget winners

Investing in resilient infrastructure

Funds to drive the national cities agenda, investment in ‘urban forests’ and a recommitment to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation are the winners for Australia’s sustainable built environment industry, but no new funding for carbon abatement is disappointing, says the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

Treasurer Scott Morrison’s first Budget allocates $50 billion for “critical infrastructure” to reduce congestion, improve safety and better connect Australian products to domestic and international markets.

The GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew, says investment in infrastructure that supports more liveable and productive communities is welcome.

“We are pleased to see a renewed national focus on Australian cities, with more than $3.4 billion allocated to urban rail projects. However, this critical infrastructure must meet best practice benchmarks for sustainability. Only then will Australian taxpayers know they’ve invested in infrastructure that is resilient and that delivers the best value for decades to come,” Ms Madew says.

The Turnbull Government has promised to plant 20 million native trees by 2020, with an additional $20 million allocated in the 2017 budget bringing the total investment to $70 million.

“This investment in urban forests is important, but we’d like to see the development of a national green infrastructure policy that goes further than being just about trees, and include boosting biodiversity, enhancing the public domain, and building more resilient cities,” Ms Madew explains.

The Turnbull Government’s commitment to retain the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is also welcome, Ms Madew says.

“The $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund to assist emerging clean energy technologies provides a much-needed investment injection and greater certainty for the industry.”

The Turnbull Government has shown that it is taking a whole-of-government approach to cities. Ms Madew says the budget’s allocation of of $4.6 million to expand the Cities Taskforce and drive implementation of the government’s city-building agenda illustrates this commitment.

“Cities are squarely in the government’s sights, and industry is looking forward to working towards a large-scale city-building strategy,” Ms Madew says.

“As well as driving productivity and economic growth, our cities also provide significant opportunities for reducing carbon emissions. It is disappointing that the Budget announces no new funding to assist Australia to reach its international commitments for emissions reductions and to transition to a low-carbon economy.

“The built enviromment represents significant opportunities for emissions reductions at relatively low cost, but there are no new incentives or support for the property and construction industry, or any other industry for that matter, to make the most of these opportunities.

“The GBCA will continue to work constructively with all levels of government and industry to deliver on these announcements and build a better, more sustainable future for all Australians,” Ms Madew concludes.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) was established in 2002 to develop a sustainable property industry in Australia and drive the adoption of green building practices through market-based solutions.

Media contact

Karen Jamal
Green Building Council of Australia
Phone: 0412 179 135
Email: karen.jamal@gbca.org.au