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Govt to spend $3.6 billion on environment in 2023/24 fiscal year

Central government agencies are estimated to spend $3.6 billion on the environment in the 2023/24 financial year according to new figures from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The Commissioner has released his third annual estimate of environmental expenditure which covers the spending of 20 central government agencies mapped against six enduring environmental outcomes.

“I began providing these all-of-government estimates in 2022 as a way of helping members of parliament to see the big picture of environmental spending across agencies. Traditional spending information has been focused on agencies, not outcomes. It has been difficult for MPs to understand how taxpayers’ money is being spent to achieve different environmental outcomes,” explains the Commissioner, Simon Upton.

“The estimate aims to provide MPs with the information to better scrutinise public spending. It provides a data source to help decision-makers understand the Government’s current environmental priorities, how much is being spent to achieve environmental outcomes and whether this expenditure is effective.”

“It will also provide a useful baseline against which changing government priorities can be measured,” the Commissioner adds.

The Sankey diagram shows environmental expenditure by government agencies attributed to enduring environmental outcomes. The top of the figure provides a sense of the total environmental spending by agency, the bottom shows where that spending is focused. Flows indicate the contribution of individual agencies.-

Download Sankey diagram

The estimate is based on information from Budget 2023 which showed that agencies have budgeted $3.6 billion on environmental protection and resource management for the 2023/24 fiscal year. This compares to $3.5 billion budgeted in 2022/23.

Of the $3.6 billion total, about $1.1 billion is allocated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change. When further broken down, $840 million is directed towards climate mitigation activities (reducing climate change), and $55 million to climate adaptation (adjusting to current and future effects of climate change).

A further $875 million is directed towards improving biodiversity and ecosystems, while $666 million is allocated to improving land and freshwater, including the management of resources.

The Commissioner emphasises that the estimate is intended as a temporary measure to fill an information gap. “It is my hope that such reporting will be taken up by the Government and that we are at the start of a journey towards building a high quality environmental information base, better informed decision-making and more robust parliamentary scrutiny.”

“To fully achieve this, tagging and reporting expenditure by environmental outcomes needs to be undertaken by government agencies and incorporated into standard budget and performance reporting. It also needs to be supplemented by better reporting on the difference that this spending is having.”


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