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2019 NSW budget light on sustainability

Koala
Photo by Aris Cologon on Unsplash

UPDATED: There’s not much to get excited about for sustainability in the 2019-20 NSW budget, which was handed down today (Tuesday).

There was $295.4 million allocated to climate change adaption and impact minimisation, but nothing specific to bring down emissions, which suggests the government might be giving up on that score.

And the words climate change were not uttered in Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s speech, which didn’t go unnoticed.

Wins include a new national park in south-west Sydney to protect koala habitats, upgraded fire trails and National Park walking tracks, and $150 million for new and improved public parklands.

The government’s no-interest loans for solar panels and batteries was funded but some commentators suggest not enough went to renewables.

“In an $84.5 billion budget which is $345 billion over four years the NSW Coalition is giving just $30 million to building renewable energy generation, all of it privately owned,” Greens MP and spokesperson for energy David Shoebridge said.

“What is missing in this budget is any investment in large scale public solar, wind and storage that is the only guaranteed way to reduce power prices.

“We need publicly owned renewable energy for jobs, for the climate and to ease the cost of living.

A record $93 billion infrastructure investment includes a number of rail projects, including a $6.4 billion investment in Metro West.

“Overall it is a good fiscal outcome and our state is in a solid position with strong economic fundamentals,” Property Council NSW deputy executive director William Power said today.

“However, government revenue has dropped due to a subdued residential market and there is nothing in the budget to support a slower residential sector and drive housing supply.

“It’s great news that there are no new taxes or tax increases given the downturn in the residential market.  The next task for the government is to take a long hard look at the cumulative impact of the existing fees, taxes and charges regime across state and local government which are a major impediment to housing affordability in NSW, especially in Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra.

“A commitment to a long-term strategy for new sectors such as Build to Rent will also ensure there is counter-cyclical investment in the residential sector, further strengthening revenue streams.”

According to the NSW Council of Social Services CEO Joanna Quilty, there are some positive initiatives in the budget but it ultimately does not do enough for those doing it tough.

“There are some positives in mental health, with mobile dental clinics, TAFE courses for the young and older people returning to work, and funding to support free school breakfasts to 500 schools.

“Overall, there is not a lot to get excited about. By and large it’s more of the same,”  Ms Quilty said.

“Disturbingly, there seems to be less money this year for energy rebate programs to help low-income households manage financial pressures.”

She said there’s also no new or additional funding for initiatives to combat NSW’s street homelessness crisis, nor for additional social and affordable housing.

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