Not a bright idea

WA TREASURER Mark McGowan’s latest budget was a missed opportunity to deal with climate change, while its centrepiece $400 electricity rebate was a “lazy” way of helping with household costs, says Greens MLC Brad Pettitt.

The Chook caught up with Dr Pettitt as he was teasing out his budget reply and prepping up for this week’s Budget Estimates committee, where he’ll get to grill his Parliamentary colleagues and their top bureaucrats on what this year’s taxes and mining royalties get spent on.

Dr Pettitt said the $400 electricity rebate wasn’t targeted at those most in need of financial help, and didn’t encourage consumers to ease up on their power consumption.

“When you make things free, people don’t value it,” Dr Pettitt said.

He’d have preferred the money was used to subsidise household heat pumps, which he said could help people reduce their hot water bills by around half and give them long-term savings rather than a “populist” one-off hit.

Dr Pettitt said the budget did have some positive initiatives, such as a “Rolls Royce” target of 75 per cent renewable energy for Rottnest Island and rebates for electric vehicles, but WA remained on track to increase its carbon emissions – even without its gas extraction taken into account.

“It feels to me like a lot of promises around big movements, around a lot of hope in things like green hydrogen, but actually the tangible things we can do right now to reduce emissions in this state, I can’t see in this budget.”

Metronet got a big slice of extra cash, but Dr Pettitt said much of that was gobbled up by inflationary pressures, while the whole concept had a major flaw.

“Metronet generally is an OK set of projects, but it’s been terribly let down by the fact that all the funding for public transport in this state is … focused towards the urban fringe; again, further enabling sprawl.

“This is road and freeway building of a scale never before seen in this state, and a lot of this is literally enabling sprawl.

“So whilst we’ve got a $1.25 billion fund for emissions reduction, we’re enabling new gas projects … but we’re also doing funding other things that actually further undermine a sustainable future for the state.”

Dr Pettitt said it was great the premier had a $5.7b surplus to play with, but it was also a source of frustration because it gave WA a better opportunity than any other state to undertake game-changing sustainability initiatives.

“We are in a position to transition quickly and pivot quickly,” he said.

“And often the pivots that need to happen around renewable energy and better design of your cities, they’re things that save you money in the long term. “


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