2022 Federal Budget briefing

30 Mar 2022

A message from the CEO Davina Rooney

Last night, as he outlined the 2022 Budget, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted the signs of uncertain times: war in Europe, the ongoing global pandemic and devastating floods on our doorstep.

Australia remains resilient, he said. We have overcome the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression and “our recovery leads the world”.

But the window to save Australia, and indeed the world, from catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing, as the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warns.

Australia has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions from coal power in the world and our built environment is still responsible for a quarter of national emissions.

At Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), we are objectively passionate about policy that supports sustainability in the built environment – and we commend good policy from all parties. We are pleased to see the Morrison Government make the following announcements:

1.   Energy and emissions reduction

The Treasurer noted that “a low‑emissions future with reliable and affordable power is critical to our plan for a strong economy” and announced an extra $446.1 million over five years to increase energy security, maintain affordable and reliable power and reduce the cost of deploying low emissions technologies. The Morrison Government’s road to net zero is about “technology not taxes”. GBCA supports some of these areas, such as green hydrogen for manufacturing, batteries and large-scale solar with new investments in community microgrid projects in regional and rural Australia. But we know a laser-focus on reducing demand, improving energy efficiency and moving rapidly away from gas to clean energy will deliver some of the biggest wins.

2.   Circular economy

An additional $83.1 million over five years promises to “expedite” Australia’s transition to a more circular waste economy. Funding includes more than $60 million to boost the nation’s plastics recycling capabilities and $18-plus million for a ‘ReMade in Australia’ campaign. We welcome any investment that helps to unlock what could be a $1.9 trillion circular economy opportunity.

3.   Resilience 

The $6 billion investment in disaster recovery is vital and welcome, but we encourage the government to consider resilience not just in terms of post-disaster support. We also need transformational funding for preparing our communities before disaster strikes.

4.   Liveable, sustainable cities

Ongoing funding for several City Deals is welcome and will support Australia’s growing cities and regions. The recently-announced $1.8 billion South East Queensland City Deal, for example, will deliver the infrastructure that will underpin the Olympic Games in 2032, but will also improve liveability and economic opportunity for people in the region for decades to come. The Queensland Government has committed to achieve Green Star ratings for all new Olympic Games facilities and major upgrades, as well as IS ratings for transport infrastructure. A federal government commitment to prioritise sustainable outcomes in City Deals would be the next welcome step.

These investments will help to reduce emissions and improve the liveability of our cities. But we need to move faster and further on the road to net zero.

GBCA will launch our Federal Election Platform in the coming weeks and look forward to engaging with all political parties during the election campaign. Among our ‘key asks' are a commitment to a National Construction Code that improves the resilience of all homes and buildings and puts them on a clear trajectory to net zero by 2050. We also call for an expansion of the Commercial Building Disclosure program to new sectors and incentives that drive the uptake of sustainable housing. These are the types of policies that will move us further, faster.

With a federal election looming, every investment outlined in the Budget can be viewed through an election lens. Similarly, we can expect the Opposition’s Budget Reply to outline an alternate vision for Australia’s future. So, keep an eye out for our analysis of the Budget Reply on Friday.

Last year, the world’s emissions increased by six per cent – the single largest annual increase since the world started tracking emissions in 1900, according to the International Energy Agency. We need large-scale investment in our transition towards net zero today if we are to achieve our global obligations in 2050.