From its white sands and turquoise seas to the red outback and tropical rainforests, Queensland’s environment is the envy of the world. The Palaszczuk Government is committed to keeping it that way through a number of 2017-18 Queensland Budget initiatives that protect our most precious environmental assets and help combat the effects of climate change.
Queensland Reef Water Quality Program
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) supports around 69,000 jobs and contributes $5.7 billion to the Queensland and Australian economies. Yet it remains under pressure from agricultural run-off, climate change, coastal development and illegal fishing. Cyclones and severe flooding have also impacted the reef.
The Budget provides $175 million over the next five years to deliver the GBR Water Quality Program. This is over and above the $100 million committed in 2015-16 to address the GBR Water Science Taskforce recommendations.
Managing protected areas
The Government continues to support the protection of areas with high conservation and biodiversity value with increased funding of $3.2 million for delivery of the Government’s Protected Area Strategy and the continued management of Nature Refuge Agreements.
$19.7 million has already been made available to secure Nature Refuge Agreements under the NatureAssist Program which provides incentives to landowners to conserve high value habitat on privately owned land.
The Budget provides an additional $15 million over three years to begin the task of reducing carbon emissions. This is in addition to the previous $15 million climate adaption package (including the $12 million coastal hazards adaption program) and the $8.4 million CarbonPlus initiative to support Indigenous carbon farming.
The Budget also commits $1.6 million to implement the recommendations of the Queensland Renewable Energy Expert Panel. They include undertaking a reverse auction for up to 400MW of renewable capacity, to commence in the second half of 2017. This process will include a focus on bringing forward renewable energy solutions that can support long-term system security (eg storage and dispatchable generation).
Container refund scheme and plastic bag ban
The Budget provides $2.5 million to implement the container refund scheme and plastic bag ban from 1 July 2018 as part of the Advancing Queensland Waste Reform Agenda.
Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger program
The Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger program provides grant funding, training and mentoring support to Indigenous organisations. It increases Indigenous participation in environmental management and supports jobs in areas including ecotourism.
An additional $8.1 million is being provided over four years for the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger program, creating an additional 25 jobs in regional and remote areas of Queensland. This takes the total number of ranger positions to 100 across 17 regional and remote communities.