Infrastructure, energy security key in Budget 2018
The 2018 Federal Budget tackles head on the connectivity challenges posed by a growing population with substantial infrastructure investments in new and existing projects around the country.
Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) Head of Public Affairs Jonathan Cartledge said the federal government must continue to make future-focused infrastructure investments to ensure our towns, cities and communities remain livable for the next generation.
“The attention on urban congestion hot spots backed by $1 billion in funding is particularly welcome and should be part of a broader strategy to support better urban design outcomes,” Cartledge said.
“When it comes to delivering more sustainable communities, in this Budget these infrastructure investments will need to do the heavy lifting. In addition to busting congestion and boosting productivity, let’s make sure that in delivery these infrastructure projects maximise value for money through increased livability, amenity and resilience across our communities.
“The new Major Projects Business Case Fund is a welcome step towards fast-tracking future infrastructure investment and we would expect it to complement Infrastructure Australia’s work identifying priority projects. Within these business cases we must prioritise the evaluation of environmental and social benefits alongside economic returns.
“It’s encouraging to see funding coming online to support the City Deals and progress in implementing the significant housing affordability budget measures announced last year.
“Some of the smaller measures announced in the Budget will nonetheless have a potentially big impact and it is terrific to see government focusing on funding important areas of social sustainability including: $3.6 million over four years from 2018–19 to establish an Anti-Slavery Unit, a total of $8.3 million to expand and build Australia’s social impact investment capability as well as the $4.8 million to bolster the ABS’s tracking of affordable housing data.
“We likewise welcome the $37.6 million in funding over five years from 2017–18 for measures to improve energy affordability, reliability and sustainability including implementation of the Finkel review recommendations.
“However, the Budget is largely silent on funding additional measures to help Australia meet our international emissions reduction targets and maintain our world-leading position on sustainability in the built environment.
“Despite Australian industry’s international leadership in delivering increased sustainability across our cities through the use of tools like Green Star, there is still enormous scope for our built environment to do more to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency. Government must lead by example, through policy, regulation and investment to realise this potential.
“A YouGov Galaxy survey commissioned by The Australian Council of Social Services, Property Council of Australia and the Energy Efficiency Council found that an overwhelming majority of Australian voters believe it is important or very important that governments invest in energy efficiency. 90% of voters surveyed said that it is important for governments to help reduce households and businesses’ energy bills.”
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