The Greens (WA) finance spokesperson Diane Evers believes the McGowan Government should show more leadership on climate change after the 2019-20 State Budget was handed down on Thursday.
Ms Evers welcomed a return to surplus but said the overall strategies to combat the climate emergency must improve.
Water Minister Dave Kelly declared a water deficiency in the Shire of Ravensthorpe on Tuesday and was clear in acknowledging climate change had contributed to low rainfall in the region.
However, despite several WA Labor members mentioning climate change in parliament this week, there was no allocation for climate change strategies in yesterday’s budget papers.
Ms Evers appreciates additional funds for the Enhanced Prescribed Burning program but would prefer they were more specifically targeted towards wildfire mitigation and control.
The lack of additional investment in natural resource management (NRM) is of significant concern.
Despite the need for prioritisation of environmental and social programs, Ms Evers recognised that this budget would benefit businesses and the state economy.
QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:
“This is a responsible budget from an economic perspective but the need remains to protect our way of life by combating the harm to our society and environment due to climate change.
“Premier McGowan called for more national leadership on climate change in March, neglecting his own responsibility at a state level.
“In this budget, three times as much money will be spent on the fossil fuel industry than on only two very specific renewable energy projects.
“Mr McGowan and Treasurer Wyatt could listen more closely to their own colleagues in parliament, as climate change is clearly on their agenda, as it is for next week’s federal election.
“Prioritising within a budget is important but the Government’s focus remains broadly on large projects, when regional WA has a vast array of needs that may be most efficiently addressed through small business and diversified enterprises.
“I would like to have seen an increase in funds allocated to NRM, especially as the Australian Greens are committed to restoring the significant national funding cuts in this area over the past two decades.
“The $5.5 million per year provided to the Enhanced Prescribed Burning program is of concern, as we are missing out on developing more effective bushfire mitigation strategies in favour of a quantity-over-quality approach.
“I do welcome increased funding to create new national and marine parks over the next five years and to build recreation facilities at Ningaloo Coastal Reserve and invest in Ngari Capes Marine Park, along with significant investment in the agriculture and fisheries sector.
“Knowing there are key effectiveness indicators in the budget for the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to drive quality outcomes for agricultural soil health and improved fish stocks is encouraging.
“I feel like my advocacy over the past two years in these areas is being listened to, which is a good outcome for any crossbencher.
“It was disappointing last week to learn that a planned solar farm in Collie has been cancelled and funding redirected in the budget to an as-yet unclear Industry Attraction and Development Fund.
“However, funding for the Collie Adventure Trails initiative, DFES multipurpose facility in Collie and the Collie Futures Fund are good starting points towards a much-needed and comprehensive transition for the town.
“I will reserve final judgement until the highly anticipated economic development plan for Collie and Bunbury is delivered later this year.
“It cannot be ignored that an iron ore windfall has bolstered the makeup of this budget and its subsequent surplus.
“We have seen previous governments squander this in the past, and expect better from this Government.
“I will continue to press hard for the Government to future-proof our communities and lands as part of fully integrated strategies factoring a changing climate at the forefront — while we still can.”
GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070