Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, discussed the chronic underfunding revealed in the Budget for the new federal environmental protection agency, to be known as Environment Protection Australia (EPA).
“While I applaud the Federal Government for committing to establish the EPA, at the same time I’m gravely concerned that the $121m over four years set aside in the Budget is only about one third of the funding actually needed,” Mr Wilkie said.
“My concern is based on my request to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) last month for the estimated cost to establish a truly independent and effective environmental protection agency. The PBO analysed a number of models and produced a range of costings, with the model most similar to what we now understand to be the likely structure and role of the EPA costing $322.2m over its first four years.
“The underfunding is alarming because Australia is way overdue for an effective environmental protection agency and the EPA now on the table will not deliver Labor’s promise, the community’s expectations or the environment’s urgent needs.
“What’s needed is a strong EPA that can effectively give expert advice and make sensible decisions, as well as reliably ensure compliance and apply tough enforcement measures. It must be independent, well-resourced and never be faced with budgetary constraints. But the current funding puts all of that at risk and must be immediately fixed if the Government is fair dinkum about protecting the environment.”
A copy of the PBO report is attached.