Queensland’s environment is set to be a major cornerstone of the Palaszczuk Government’s latest Budget, with a record $1.4 billion announced to protect the country’s immense biodiversity and create jobs.
Environment and Great Barrier Reef Minister Meaghan Scanlon said this year’s record spend would see a significant focus on the ongoing protection of the reef, measures to reduce landfill, land regeneration, the conservation of wildlife and creating jobs as part of the state’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
“When we announced Queensland’s plan for economic recovery last year, we made sure that protecting our environment would be a key pillar,” Minister Scanlon said.
“For Queensland’s economy to keep growing it relies on a thriving, healthy environment – whether that’s in tourism, agriculture or any industry for that matter.
“We know to protect the environment we must drive down emissions and create the jobs of the future, which is what this budget does.
“This investment in the environment together with record investment in this budget for renewable energy will help Queensland to meet its emission targets.
Minister Scanlon said the Land Restoration Fund would see a further $60 million to be made available for investment by the program which partners with landholders to expand carbon farming by supporting carbon projects that deliver additional environmental, social and economic, and First Nations co-benefits.
“That injection for the Land Restoration Fund includes $25 million for round two of the program and $35 million seed funding to co-invest in even more projects with businesses through a new Queensland Natural Capital Fund.
“The budget also confirms another $270 million for our Great Barrier Reef to build on the $400 million already invested by the Palaszczuk Government since 2015.
“That reef funding will go towards programs aimed at improving the water quality of this world-heritage-listed area, and the $6 billion economy and 60,000 jobs that rely on it.
“To support our job creation and tourism industry, we’ll also invest an additional $8.6 million in our national parks for better infrastructure, visitor experiences and to engage with First Nations people as we continue to improve our national parks.
Ms Scanlon said a further quarter-of-a-billion dollars from the Department of Environment and Science would be aimed squarely at waste.
“Landfill is harmful to our environment and the lifestyle Queensland families enjoy – there’s no other way to put it.
“We’ve banned a swathe of single-use plastics, seen more than four billion containers recycled through our popular Containers for Change program, and now we’re putting our sights on capturing and recycling waste through resource recovery before it gets to landfill.
Ms Scanlon announced as part of the government’s commitment to conserve wildlife in the sunshine state, $6 million would be provided over four years to bolster the south east Queensland Wildlife Hospital Network, with a further $1.5 million per annum ongoing.
“I’m also proud to announce that we’ve locked in $3.7 million for the next four years and more than $900,000 per annum ongoing to support koala conservation projects.
A further $12 million will be invested over the next four years for the department’s crocodile program, which includes Crocwise education, management and research.
Minister Scanlon said the budget would also focus on building Queensland’s scientific capacity with a further $7.7 million over three years for research into disaster management, water quality modelling and sediment management.
“Our scientific and health experts helped keep Queenslanders safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing us to kickstart an economic recovery focussed on jobs.
“We’re backing them with close to $8 million in additional funding to support the 300-plus scientists who work tirelessly in the pursuit of scientific excellence.
“We’ll also continue our commitment to built heritage in Queensland with increased funding of $5.5 million over two years for works at Newstead House.
Minister Scanlon said the record budget was one that would see Queensland’s environment, jobs and economic recovery grow.
“We went to the election with a plan for economic recovery and a strong platform to protect our environment and create jobs – and we’re backing Queenslanders by delivering a strong budget that will regenerate our reef, land and Queensland jobs.”