Federal Budget 2017-18: how the environment sector fared

The Federal Government has released its Portfolio Budget Statements 2017-18 with funds revealed for the management of hazardous waste.

The Budget includes about $62.8 million to go towards the management of hazardous wastes, substances and pollutants. This reduces to about $61.7 across the forward estimates in 2018-19, increasing to about $62.5 million in 2019-20.

The management includes funds for biofuels monitoring, councils, ozone protection and synthetic greenhouse and a range of other areas. This will be delivered through a risk based approach to compliance and enforcement and delivery of government policies, programs and priorities in relation to environmental health.

A key focus of Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg’s portfolio is a $265 million energy package.

“The nation’s energy system is undergoing its greatest transition since electricity became widely available in Australia. The measures in this package will set Australia up for a modern and dynamic energy system, allowing us to keep pace with changing energy technologies, as we transition to a lower emissions future,” Minister Frydenberg said.

The Government is also looking at further hydro-electricity and pumped storage opportunities in Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland.

To expand gas supply as part of a package of about $90 million, the Government will extend funding by $30.4 million for its Bioregional Assessments program to assess any potential impacts on waterways and aquifers from unconventional gas projects.

This package also includes $28.7 million over four years from 2017-18 to encourage and accelerate the responsible development of onshore gas for the domestic market. The Government will also provide $19.6 million over four years to the Gas Market Reform Group intended to better facilitate gas trading and encourage greater competition to place downwards pressure on prices and ensure gas markets are more transparent and accountable.

“Commercial and residential consumers have already benefitted from smarter, lower emissions technologies developed and commercialised through ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

“As part of this work the Turnbull Government will also make available up to $110 million to build a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta in South Australia and separately provide up to $36.6 million over two years from 2017-18 to target investment in energy infrastructure in South Australia under a bilateral Asset Recycling agreement. ”

The Australian Energy Regulator will receive an additional $7.95 million to scrutinise energy providers to ensure they are serving consumers’ needs.

The Federal Government will provide $6.6 million over three years from 2017-18 to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to establish a monitoring regime for the gas market by using its inquiry powers to compel the gas industry to provide greater transparency of transactions in the gas market, including factors affecting supply and pricing. The Government will also provide $7.9 million in 2017-18 to the ACCC to review retail electricity prices.