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Budget ‘leaving us ill-prepared’ for sustainable future: Climate Director

The latest federal budget was unveiled on Tuesday. Photo: Parliament of Australia.

By SEJA AL ZAIDI

A climate expert has warned that the funding for fundamental science critical for public health and environmental sustainability “has really been missed”, calling Australia “ill-prepared” for the future.

Andy Pitman, the Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, said that the spending on the fundamental science that “underpins everything we do” has not been properly addressed.

It comes after the federal government was criticised this week for failing to deliver any fiscal commitments addressing climate change and aged care support as part of the latest budget.

Criticisms have been levied at the Morrison government since unveiling the budget on Tuesday evening, with climate change measures and support for the aged care sector being signalled as two key areas that weren’t met with adequate spending. 

Budget has ‘nothing’ for aged care, says Member for Sydney

Tanya Plibersek. Photo: Facebook.

Labor Member for Sydney Tanya Plibersek said that the budget “has nothing for aged care worker pay, nothing for aged care nurses, and nothing for more care time”, adding that “older Australians deserve so much better”.

Chris Cormack, the Executive General Manager of Australian energy supplier Discover Energy, noted that there was no funding for renewable solutions such as electric vehicles, and a complete disregard for the issue of making solar power and panels more accessible for medium to low-income earners.

“The government’s continued resistance to give the green light to manufacturers to bring their EV ranges to our shores will continue to impede Australia’s efforts in becoming a greener country,” Mr Cormack said. 

Mr Pitman said that “the fundamental thing we hope to see is a long term strategy to develop the basic science that feeds through to things like forecasting and climate projection”.

Climate change expenditure expected to be 35 per cent lower in 2025-26 than today

Mr Pitman also addressed the reality of researchers and academics who commit themselves to critical causes like climate change. Public underfunding has remained a consistent trend for these groups, with the federal government’s 2021 investment in science being 0.56 per cent of gross domestic product – a figure significantly lower than comparable countries.

“The population doing a PhD in Australia are living below the poverty line for three years to generate the science that saves people’s lives,” Pitman noted. 

The year-on-year decrease in annual budget allocations toward climate change programs means spending is forecasted to be 35 per cent lower in 2025-26 than it is this year.

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