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It looks even worse the morning after: Budget utterly fails climate and oil challenge

Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan's first Budget looks even worse for climate change in the cold light of day, Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, said today.

Senator Milne said, "The urgency of climate change action is building rapidly. We have gigawatts of renewable energy projects, from solar thermal to wind, waiting to be rolled out. We have car manufacturing plants ready to be re-tooled and millions of homes crying out for insulation. We could be well on our way to a post-carbon Australia by the next election if we decided to make that change.

"Yet, despite all this, last night's Budget will do nothing in the next year for commercialising renewable energy, nothing until 2011 for the Green Car fund, and will give loans to as few as 6000 households for energy efficiency measures.

"The Government's priorities are reflected clearly in the allocation of $22 billion this year to Defence and a few hundred million dollars for climate change. While the Defence budget is set to rise 4% a year, heading towards a massive $34 billion in ten years, climate's crumbs are expected to stretch over the next decade.

"The $2.3 billion spend being spruiked, other than being pitifully small next to the Government's real priorities, is even less when you discount the wasteful spending on the failing attempts to clean up coal. If coal corporations think they can really make their product emissions free, they should spend their own multi-billion dollar profits on making it work. Taxpayer dollars should not be spent paying profitable polluters.

"Building a post-carbon economy requires systemic change, not tinkering. Energy efficiency is a tremendous missed opportunity. Providing small loans to a handful of households is like preparing to build a house with a handful of nails. We haven't even brought a hammer to drive the nails or the timber they will go into. The Greens, on the other hand, have proposed a systemic roll-out of energy efficiency audits and upgrades, overcoming all the barriers to action and covering all of Australia's 7.4 million homes.

"The dishonesty of announcing a Green Car Fund which isn't scheduled to even start until after the next election is truly breathtaking. It is deliberate smoke and mirrors to give the impression of action while, in the next few years, there is no immediate action on vehicle fuel efficiency, minimal spending on public transport relative to roads and crumbs from the table on real alternative fuels.

"The Government couldn't even muster the courage to scrap the Fringe Benefits Tax Concession on motor vehicles.

"With oil prices passing through $127 a barrel overnight, on the way to $200, the refusal to even acknowledge peak oil as a risk, let alone start oil-proofing Australia with mass transit, efficient cars and alternative fuels, is utterly irresponsible mismanagement."

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