The 2015 Budget is part of the Commonwealth Government’s plan to build a strong, safe and prosperous future for all Australians.
The 2015 Budget delivers an increase in funding of $179 million over four years compared to last year’s Budget as part of the Government’s commitment to continue growing the Green Army.
We have already established Australia’s largest-ever on-ground environmental workforce and we will continue to support the Green Army programme with funding of $704 million over the forward estimates.
We will deliver on our commitment to grow the number of Green Army teams to 1,500 by 2018.
The Green Army is already a genuine success story that is having positive impacts on the environment and on the lives of participants. The 2015 Budget commitment will enable us to grow and expand the programme and continue providing valuable skills and training for young Australians.
And just as we are looking after our land, we are also protecting our waters. We are doing more than any government before us to protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
We are investing $100 million into the Reef Trust – this is in addition to our election commitment and initial contribution of $40 million.
The Reef Trust invests in important projects such as improving water quality and coastal habitat along the Great Barrier Reef, controlling the current outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish, and protecting threatened and migratory species, particularly dugong and turtle.
While significant in itself, this $100 million funding is just a small part of a suite of measures to protect this natural icon for future generations.
Investment in the Great Barrier Reef by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments for protection, management and research is projected to be more than $2 billion over the coming decade.
Australia’s investment in the environment also extends beyond our own land and waters.
In 2015-16, the Government will provide $9.4 million to maintain Australia’s presence in Antarctica. This will bring the total investment in the Australian Antarctic programme for the coming financial year to $118 million and will help to ensure that Australia’s strategic and sovereign interests are protected.
This funding provides benefits for both the environment and the local community. With the bulk of Australia’s operational work in Antarctica undertaken out of Hobart, this funding will contribute to employment and investment in the region. It will support Antarctic scientific research activities and environmental management, while continuing to boost the Tasmanian economy.
The Government has also taken significant steps towards procuring a new world-class icebreaker which will support the Australian Antarctic programme and be home-ported in Hobart.
Funding for a new icebreaker is long overdue and was neglected under Labor. Funding has been provisioned within the Budget while the Government completes the tender process for a new icebreaker.
The 2015 Budget clearly demonstrates that we are committed to protecting, enhancing, growing and improving Australia’s truly unique natural environment.
The Government has the right balance to keep our environment healthy, our economy flourishing and our communities vibrant. The 2015 Budget allows us to continue to work toward these goals with strong investment in Australia’s air, land, water and heritage.