Sustainable transport and renewable energy are featured in the McGowan Government’s first budget, which also includes funding for new protected areas in the Kimberley, a substantial Aboriginal Ranger program, and a 10c recycling refund scheme for beverage containers.
Conservation Council of WA Director Piers Verstegen said environment groups would welcome funding for key initiatives that help to protect Western Australia’s environment, reduce waste, assist with the transition to renewable energy, and make Perth a more sustainable city.
“Funding to continue and further expand the network of protected areas in the Kimberley will deliver genuine world-class conservation outcomes for the region, and leave a permanent positive legacy for future generations.”
The significant program to expand marine and terrestrial National Parks in the Kimberley begun under the Barnett Government will be continued, including the Great Kimberley Marine Park, which will receive a $5.8 million funding allocation. Labor’s election commitment to a new Fitzroy River National Park is also identified in the budget and will further add to this already significant program.
“The new $20m Aboriginal Ranger Parks program is also a very welcome investment into protection of our environment and creating sustainable jobs for Indigenous people in the regions,” Mr Verstegen said.
“In the city, the $1.3b funding allocation for Metronet Stage 1 and $129m for Perth’s cycling network are also historic measures that will make Perth’s transport system more sustainable, and reduce pollution from car use.”
Budget papers reveal that election commitments to renewable energy projects will be met from the Royalties for Regions fund, including $19.5m allocation for a wave energy research facility in Albany.
A $20m allocation has also been made to the Collie Futures Fund to assist the Collie region with a ‘significant period of transition’. The reduction in the government subsidy to Synergy is also expected to create an improved economic environment for new renewable energy projects on the South West electricity grid.
“The measures contained in this budget will assist with the transition to an affordable, renewable energy system, while managing the inevitable transition for coal workers and the Collie community.
“The funding commitment for a 10c recycling refund scheme is also very welcome, as this program will dramatically reduce waste and litter while contributing new jobs and economic opportunity for recycling industries.
“While baseline funding for wildlife, biodiversity protection, and environmental regulation remains low, it is pleasing to see that no significant cuts have been made to these areas given the overall constraints on the budget.
“We look forward to working with the McGowan Government to deliver the new conservation and sustainability measures included in the budget, and to restore environment agencies to healthier funding levels over time.”