Australia: Planning, Environment & Sustainability: Election promises

Last Updated: 25 May 2019
Article by Peter Holt
Most Read Contributor in Australia, May 2019

Reducing emissions

The Coalition has committed to reduce Australia's emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 in accordance with the Paris Agreement. The Coalition has also introduced a Climate Solutions Package which will cost $3.5 billion over 15 years. The package includes the Climate Solutions Fund, a $2 billion fund which will ensure farmers, businesses and Indigenous communities continue to have opportunities to undertake emissions reduction projects, such as improving energy efficiency or increasing native vegetation. This will build on the success of the Emissions Reduction Fund. $1.38 billion from the package will go towards the construction of the Snowy 2.0 project, which will lead to lower emissions economy and creation of reliable renewable energy.

Renewable and affordable energy

The Snowy 2.0 project will be the world's second largest pumped hydro renewable power station which will add 2,000 megawatts of energy generation and provide 175 hours of storage for the National Electricity Market, which is enough to power 500,000 homes. Snowy 2.0 will enhance stability and security to the energy market and increase affordability and reliability. It is expected that the Snowy 2.0 project will also create opportunities for jobs, local businesses and improvements in local infrastructure.

The Coalition government is targeting a 25 per cent reduction in the wholesale electricity price by the end of 2021 with the Underwriting New Generation Investments program.

From 1 July 2019, the Coalition has also said it will abolish the loyalty tax and the misleading use of discounts to attract customers. Australian families and small businesses changing to default market offers will have lower electricity prices. The default market offer performs as a price safety net and will require energy retailers to present their plans with a common price benchmark.

Environment

The Coalition will implement the Australian Recycling Investment Plan, which is worth $167 million, to increase recycling rates, tackle plastic waste and halve food waste by 2030. There will also be an investment of over $22 million in a new Communities Environment Program which will provide each federal electorate with up to $150,000 for local communities to implement environmental projects.

The Government has also pledged $100 million to a new Environment Restoration Fund to assist major environmental projects which include cleaning and protecting Australia's coasts, oceans and waterways, protecting threatened species and increasing recycling and reducing waste.

Transport infrastructure

The Coalition has committed to a 10 year Infrastructure Pipeline with a $100 billion investment in transport infrastructure. This includes a $4 billion Urban Congestion Fund which will be used to remove traffic congestion areas. The Fund also includes a $500 million Commuter Car Park Fund, to upgrade commuter car parks and encourage an increased use of public transport.

The Government's plan also involves constructing fast rail between Geelong and Melbourne, which will allow travel at an average speed of 160km per hour, cutting travel time in half to just 32 minutes. Due to commence in 2021-22, the construction will also allow better connection with regional communities.

Overall

Climate change failed to materialise as the big issue of the federal election.

Many of the Coalition's pledges reflect the continuation of the present situation. Grant funding of relatively small amounts of money, given subject to conditions, targeted at community groups, and others, designed to provide tangible 'on the ground' outcomes through either the extension of existing or the establishment of new funding programs.

With the obvious exception of Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro initiative, there is very little in the Coalition's packages that will move to increase the proportion of renewable energy. The policies say nothing about the phasing out of coal from the electricity sector. The Underwriting New Generation Investments program may even see the Government moving to underwrite the investment in new coal-fired power plants.

At this point the funding criteria around the new programs, particularly the Communities and Environment Program and Environment Restoration Fund, have not been established. We look forward to seeing in more detail how those programs will operate.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

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