Australian Budget 2011 - Budgeting on a more sustainable Australia

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan has said the Labor Budget is a "plan to build ... a productive workforce ... and critical new investments in economic infrastructure". The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia says growth in jobs and the economy can be delivered via renewable energy projects.

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan has said the Labor Budget is a "plan to build the more productive workforce our economy needs, including a $3 billion training package, new ways to get people into work, and critical new investments in economic infrastructure".

The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) has been arguing for almost a decade for growth in jobs and the economy by building renewable energy projects,' says Prof. Ray Wills, SEA Chief Executive.

Support for new projects in sustainable energy will require new jobs in the education, research, government, business and community sectors across Australia. Skills gaps in the different sustainable energy industry sectors in addition to the equally significant skills shortages in key professions such as engineering, conventional trades and good quality accredited renewable energy designers and installers must be met by both formal training at tertiary and VET levels'

SEA has also argued the most effective way to deal with cost of living relief for families is to ensure, investments in a sustainable Australia, and new assistance for small businesses and manufacturers, is to bolster both energy efficiency and self-generation of energy from renewable sources in the same places people live and work.'

To boost the growth of industries across the sustainable energy portfolios, the Australia Government must support change and overcome resistance to change from the traditional industry base - especially the 20th Century energy generation businesses.'

SEA - the business chamber for the sustainable energy industry - is focused on removing the barriers to and promoting opportunities for the commercialization of sustainable outcomes for energy in Australia.

A key barrier over the past decade is government inertia in delivering on funding projects. This is highlighted by the fact that the 2011 Budget continues to support renewable energy and emerging renewable technologies (good news!) with the same money that was carried over because of unspent monies from last year (bad news!).

The Federal Government must show some ticker and ensure that funds are allocated to support projects in a timely fashion, and avoid any delays through long-drawn out assessment processes, as has been the experience for solar flagships.

In particular, SEA calls on the Federal Government to dispel the hot air and immediately call for applications on funding from the Emerging Renewables Program and commit to awarding in the next few months - SEA looks forward to working with the Federal Government to assist in this process.

SEA was delighted to discover that Sustainable Australia strategy starts with $4.3 billion of investments - but surprised when this simply was a different way of describing seemingly business as usual spending of money on regional hospitals, health care, universities and roads. If this Sustainable Australia proves to be about sustainability - and that this is new input into sustainable cities and regional towns with more for infrastructure, then that is different and is indeed welcome, but more details are needed.

Australia has the world's best wind, solar, and wave resources, and enormous opportunities for harnessing both biomass and geothermal resources, not just for electricity production but also for direct energy use. The Australian Government needs to unleash its support for renewable energy generation, and encourage Australian businesses to get on with the job of decarbonising Australia's economy.

A combination of a price on carbon paired with direct incentives for industry and the community to reduce emissions through both energy efficiency and procurement of lower emissions energy from renewable sources will actually diversify the economy and create more jobs and a more robust environment for business and a more sustainable Australian economy.

Australian Budget 2011 - Budgeting on a more sustainable Australia

SEA Media Release - 11 May 2011

Editors notes:

1. Federal Budget 2011, Australian Government

2. The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) is a chamber for all enterprises from all industries supporting sustainable energy, and the fastest growing energy industry body in Australia.

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