Responding to the release of the second Barnett Government budget, Western Australia’s peak environment group said the budget reflected a government that has placed the environment as one of its lowest priorities.
Piers Verstegen, Conservation Council Director said “This budget continues the trend of running our environmental regulators on the smell of an oily rag.
“The inevitable consequence of this will be increasing impacts on our environment, increased threats to our biodiversity and health, and carbon pollution skyrocketing out of control in WA.
“On the other side of the balance sheet, the budget increases the already very significant taxpayer subsidies for polluting industries in Western Australia.
“For example, the budget reveals that more than 99% of capital expenditure by the government’s energy utility will fund polluting fossil-fuel generation; less than 1% will be spent on renewable energy.
“In another massive taxpayer subsidy for environmentally damaging industry, the budget earmarks over $100 million towards assisting the development of a polluting LNG development on the Kimberley coast – in the middle of the southern hemisphere’s most important hump-back whale calving ground.”
Premier Barnett has stated that the Kimberley is the Government’s number one environmental priority.
Mr Verstegen said “The funding provided for a marine park to be established at Camden Sound is welcome; however the government’s environmental credentials in the Kimberley must be weighed against the heavy taxpayer investment in opening up the north for damaging and unsustainable industries.
“It is also extremely concerning that the budget fails to account for the massive economic liability associated with Western Australia’s rapidly increasing carbon pollution.
“The EPA have advised that carbon pollution is likely to increase by 40% in the next few years, and yet this budget does not account for the liability that will be incurred in Western Australia when a price on carbon is inevitably introduced.
“Overall, this is a budget that is badly lacking in resources for environmental protection, and heavily skewed towards subsidising the growth in a dirty polluting energy economy for Western Australia.
“Financially the budget is in surplus, but that fails to account for the massive environmental and economic liability that will be transferred to future generations of Western Australians by the Barnett Government.”