More than six months after the Covid Relief and Recovery Fund was announced, the Morrison Government has finally allocated some of it to environment and heritage jobs.
The fund itself was announced back in mid-March. Now, more than six months later, we’re hearing another announcement, this time to allocate a small portion of the fund to conservation and heritage infrastructure upgrades.
But earmarking the money, albeit belatedly, doesn’t create a single job: that depends on the money making it out of the Government’s coffers and into the economy.
Labor and much of the community have been calling on the Government to bring forward these critical infrastructure works, including in heritage, to assist in jobs creation. We are pleased the Government is finally heeding our call.
However, talk is cheap. Will this be another occasion on which Scott Morrison is all about the photo op, and not so good on the follow up?
Creating jobs should be the Morrison Government’s biggest priority right now, so Labor welcomes this belated allocation, even though it has a very limited scope and will go to only 23 sites.
Just look at Emergency Response Fund. $200 million a year supposedly to help build resilience in communities suffering from natural disasters. But with bushfire season already upon us, not a single cent has been spent.
While many will welcome today’s other allocations from the fund: $20 million for shellfish restoration across 11 locations, $3.2 million for reef monitoring and $5 million for a facelift for the Reef HQ centre in Townsville, much of this allocation is contingent on states and territories agreeing to co-fund.
So Australians could be forgiven for being a bit sceptical about whether this announcement will ever turn into action.
Reef builder joins the long list of marketing slogans that this Government uses instead of delivering. ‘Reef blunder’ would be a more apt term.
The Morrison Government must also tell Australians how they will ensure quality assurance and the management of conflicts of interest when they outsource reef monitoring work to private sector tourism operators.
Investment in our natural and cultural assets is welcome but Australians have not forgotten this Government’s 40% cut to environment department funding, or the jobs and investment delays under the Government which exploded by 510%.