Summary of the 2021 Federal Budget

The 2021 federal budget was light on climate and environment measures. However, it is good to see, particularly following Dr Finkel’s recent strategy published in the Quarterly Essay - Getting to Zero: Australia’s Energy Transition - that the government has invested in technology solutions for carbon capture and storage, as well as, clean hydrogen hubs:

  • $565.8m has been allocated for international technology partnerships/initiatives and co-funding research and demonstration projects
  • $275.5m will accelerate the development of four additional clean hydrogen hubs and implement a clean hydrogen certification scheme
  • $263.7m will support the development of carbon capture, use and storage (CCS/CCUS) projects
  • $316.7m is earmarked to help industry and businesses reduce their emissions through voluntary action and adopting low emissions technology

Even better, is that the emphasis is at last swinging to funding that also assists landscape solutions. Extensive lobbying from three strongly aligned groups, Soil Science Australia, the University of Sydney, and the Soil Carbon Industry Group (hats off to them!), has resulted in soil management getting a renewed focus in the budget to support the National Soil Strategy as indicated below:

  • $102.0 million over two years from 2021-22 to incentivise farmers to increase soil testing, and enhance the National Soil Resources Information System by feeding in new and existing data
  • $20.9 million over four years from 2021-22 to implement a National Soils Science Challenge to advance understanding of Australia's soils
  • $18.0 million over two years from 2021-22 for Soils Extension Services to assist farmers understand the benefits of soil testing and help interpret and act on soil test results. The cost of this component will be met from within the existing resources of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
  • $5.9 million over four years from 2021-22 (and $1.5 million ongoing) to implement and coordinate programs in support of the National Soils Strategy
  • $1.1 million over two years from 2021-22 to develop and roll out an accreditation standard to enhance soil education and expertise

Though it is a great start, the National Soil Strategy does not go far enough towards maximising soil security, mitigating climate change and promoting landscape sustainability.

Keep an eye out for a soon to be available book (a book I've written together with my daughter Freya Mulvey) covering this very topic.