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Next week the ACT Government will release the 2020-2021 Budget. In the lead up to the Budget, we have seen early Budget announcements that are environment-related. The Government’s big ticket election commitment is a $307m package (over 5 years) to drive the transition to zero net emission in the energy and transport sectors. It includes establishing the $150m fund for no-interest loans to help households with up-front costs of solar, batteries, electric vehicles and electric appliances – a program that also supports Canberrans to go gas-free at home. $100m is allocated to 250MW of new large-scale batteries across Canberra – something that also supports electrification and grid resilience. 

Other initiatives include:

  • $5 million Building Energy Efficiency Upgrade Fund to support community clubs 
  • Waive registration fees on new ZEV registered vehicles for the first two years of registration from May 2021 to encourage more Canberrans to purchase electric vehicles.
  • $50 million support for energy initiatives for vulnerable households
  • $855,000 towards stopping new gas mains network connections in greenfield developments.

Of note is the nearly $1m over two years to establish an Office of the Coordinator General for Climate Action to coordinate government efforts and oversee major projects to keep our Climate Action commitments on track. We will be keen to hear more about how this role will improve integration of the ACT’s climate response, both mitigation and resilience -building. 

Another $4.5m has been committed in this Budget towards the health of waterways, towards invasive plant species management and to appoint permanent Ngunnawal rangers to better incorporate traditional knowledge into local land management practices. While there is much more to do and we look forward to an ongoing focus on the biodiversity budget, this is welcome funding. However, we will be seeking further information about how this money will be spent, and to ensure that it actually extends the capacity of parks and conservation staff, and others, to roll out the right programs in the right places, and to best effect.