14 May, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [Budget, Sustainable Transport]


After weeks of warning Australians, the budget would be tough, on Tuesday night Treasurer Wayne Swan made a quite a predictable budget speech reiterating the measures that the Government already pre-leaked or released.

Tuesday, Bob Brown said: I hope you're not holding your breath for any mention of indigenous Australia or the environment.”

On Thursday Tony Abbott replied to the budget by reiterating speeches from the 2010 Federal electoral campaign.

The carbon price debate & the 2011 Budget were overshadowed this week by the recent developments in off-shore processing of asylum seekers.

The details of the proposed Carbon Tax have still not been finalised and its impacts have been left out of the budget. As expected, the Budget was silent on the implications of a carbon price mechanism. The Government has indicated details of this initiative will be announced in July 2011.

The proposed framework indicates all revenues raised from the carbon tax will be recycled back into the economy.

For business, this means less than 50% of the revenue will be redistributed to industry and R&D investments in clean technologies, with the remainder going to households.

Many of Australia’s largest organisations will be significantly impacted and, under the current timeline, will have less than a year to prepare, develop and implement a comprehensive strategy.

One has to dig a little deeper to find news of any environmental initiatives in this year's budget. Most of the initiatives involve delays, postponements or elimination of programmes.

What has been included in the Budget is an additional $100 million until 2024 for investment in early-stage renewable energy. This clearly has limited implications in comparison with the proposed carbon price.

The renewable energy industry was particularly hard hit. Funding cuts and spending deferrals came in at more than half a billion dollars.

The Australian Federal Government is opening up the “Population” debate again under the platform for a Sustainable Australia with $140 million of new expenditure:

• to encourage employment precincts in outer metropolitan suburbs to reduce travel time and fuel use;

• to support for regional areas to plan for future growth and housing supply, and

• new indicators to measure the nation's sustainability needs.

Labor’s billion dollar promise to modernise the electricity grid to accommodate renewable power looks to be in trouble. The Government has confirmed its previously announced intention to provide an upfront tax deduction for exploration of geothermal energy sources from 1 July 2012.

The National Schools Solar Program, which supported schools to put pv panels on the roof, will be wound up, saving the government $156.4 million.

The National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative, which provided money for people installing rainwater tanks and greywater systems, will be ended.

The Green Car Innovation Fund & 'cash for clunkers' have all been previously eliminated. Most of the transport and infrastructure funding announced was for roads. However, the FBT is moving to a flat rate 20% over the next 4 years, removing perverse incentives to drive. There is no detail on these measures but one would assume this means it will be on new leases and the current ones will be grandfathered.

Funding for the carbon capture and storage research 'flagship' has been delayed, saving $420million over several years. An additional $84.2 million will support landowners who set aside protected areas for wildlife.

Sustainable Transport

24 May 2011 the Society of Sustainability & Environmental Engineering (SSEE) will be hosting a Technical Meeting at Engineering House, featuring Dr Andrew Simpson one of Australia’s foremost independent experts in renewable electric vehicle (EV) technology, policy and strategy.

There will be a panel discussion on the wider issues of sustainability & transport including representatives & advocates of mass transport, active transport & new technologies versus the incumbent modes/technologies.

The Panel includes:

Genevieve Graves - the Manager, Sustainable Transport at RACQ. A policy analyst for the past twenty years she has experience in transport, social capital and human services. Her role at RACQ is focused on greener motoring including electric vehicles and eco-driving. She is a keen environmentalist and the Treasurer of Save Our Waterways Now, a local environment group seeking to restore the habitat of the Enoggera Creek catchment.

Robert Dow - administrator & founder of RAIL Back On Track: A web based community group that advocates for sustainable transport solutions mainly rail and advocates strongly for rail commuters, and at times other public transport commuters eg. bus & ferry, & is also concerned with the interface of other modes of public transport with rail.

Robert is by profession a medical scientist and was an academic at the Queensland University of Technology before he retired in 2010. He is a Life member and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Medical Scientists which reflects his long involvement in the Medical Science profession. Robert served in the Australian Army for around 23 years in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps and saw operational service in South Vietnam and Irian Jaya, and retired as a Captain. A life long interest in railways and frustration with failing transport services lead Robert to form RAIL Back On Track to engage with the media and advocate for public transport improvements.

Thea (Tae) Baker – is an Inner City resident of Brisbane who passionately took up the cause of CityCycle, Brisbane City Council’s flagship and flagging active transport project, from its release in October 2010. After living in the Inner City, including Spring Hill, New Farm and Fortitude Valley, Tae has been an avid user of Public Transport since first relocating to Brisbane from the car dominated Gold Coast almost ten years ago. Now, instead of walking or taking the bus, Tae walks and rides to work using the CityCycle scheme, as well as incorporating it into her social life as her primary means of transport for the Inner City. Tae is the National Recruitment Coordinator for a major charity based in Brisbane and often finds herself in our other capital cities and rural towns – often with her helmet in tow. Not your typical lycra wearing cyclist, Tae will be able to discuss the successes and challenges of CityCycle for Brisbane and its users from her own anecdotal experiences.

ASBG June Seminars

Don’t forget ASBG QLD’s Environmental Management Seminar on Thursday 16 June 08:00-12:30

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