In March 2013, Climate Change functions of the former Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) were transferred to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE).
One outcome in the Portfolio Budget Statements is continued support of the 2013-14 Budget under the Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education portfolio was the decision to retain funding for the Clean Technology Investment Program.
Funding for the program will actually increase from $167m in 2013/14 to $376m in 214/15. This is one of few winners in the carbon reduction grant programs.
The Federal Government has significantly reduced its forecasts for the carbon price. The budget is based onarbon trading commencing in July 2015. The forecasts for the carbon price have been reduced from $29 in 2015/16 to $12.10.
The fall in revenues from the carbon tax have led to reductions or deferrals:
· $225.4m will be deferred and $32.3m redirected from the Biodiversity fund
· $370m will be deferred from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA),
· $58 million in funding for the Clean Technology Program moved to 2017-18.
· Carbon capture and storage will be wound up and
· Coal industry assistance programs have been shelved.
Note that the personal income tax cuts which were to begin in July 2015 to help with the flow on of costs of the carbon to consumers, have been deferred until carbon price estimates reach $25.40. The new estimate for 2015-16 is just $12.10.
ASBG also notes the Coalition has also flagged that its Direct Action Policy requiring $3.5 b is also under threat due to the short fall in tax revenue. It appears that many of the government funded carbon based programs are in for a tough time, regardless of whoever wins the next election.
One of the key strategic priorities for Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) is: ensuring efficient and effective environmental regulation in cooperation with stakeholders, especially in relation to protecting matters of national environmental significance and improving the delivery of regulatory services under the EPBC Act.
It would appear that DSEWPaC will continue to administer the EPBC Act in 2013–14, rather than devolve all these responsibilities to State Governments.
DSEWPaC recently announced proposed amendments to the EPBC Act undertake environmental assessment and approval for coal seam gas and large coal mining developments that are likely to have a significant impact on water resources.
The Budget provides $38 million to implement environmental law reforms: streamlining legislation and leading to better environmental outcomes and stakeholder cooperation. This appears to follow on with the COAG agreements to reduce overlap between Federal and State Governments.