December 10, 2023

The next federal budget will back green energy winners to help the renewable energy transition, Jim Chalmers has flagged.

The treasurer told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday that Australia’s energy transformation is “absolutely central” to the Albanese government’s goals and will be a focus of the 2024-25 federal budget.

So far, the federal government has committed $40bn in its efforts to achieve its promised national emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030 with an 82% share of renewables in the energy grid.

But Chalmers acknowledged in a speech on Thursday that Australia was behind on its pathway to its Paris agreement target of net zero emissions by 2050.

On Sunday the treasurer identified four key industries – critical minerals, battery manufacturing, renewable hydrogen and ammonia, and green metals – as key factors in getting the country back on track.

“What we need to do is not just to attract and commit more private and more public capital, but we need to be able to absorb and deploy that investment in the most efficient and effective way,” Chalmers said.

“And so some of the things that we need to consider as we work towards the next budget, is to make sure we get the skills base, the technological base, the relationship with the states right as well.”

The commitment to further boost Australia’s green energy revolution follows US president, Joe Biden’s introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022.

The $US369bn is expected to significantly ramp up the take-up of zero-carbon technologies in the US, and drive up competition in the global race to become renewable superpowers.

Chalmers on Thursday said he was not seeking to introduce an Inflation Reduction Act-“lite”, but something “uniquely Australian”.

“We need a set of prescriptions right for this transformation and right for this country,” he said.

“We will complement, not copy, the priorities and plans of other nations, not just do exactly the same kind of investment with the exact same subsidies.”

The treasurer’s appearance on Sunday comes ahead of Tuesday’s interest rates decision from the Reserve Bank.

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Economists and industry experts are anticipating another rate hike as inflation remains above the RBA’s target of between 2% and 3%.

A spending boom on infrastructure projects, mainly from the states, is a major factor pushing Australia’s economy beyond full capacity, the International Monetary Fund warned last week.

The global financial institution said governments should consider delaying or axing infrastructure projects to strengthen the economic outlook.

Chalmers on Sunday said the warnings were important, and welcome.

“We need to roll out our infrastructure investment in a way that gets us value for money, but also in a more measured and coordinated way,” he said.

“I do think we’re going to need to make some difficult decisions about the infrastructure pipeline.”

A review into commonwealth-funded infrastructure projects around the country is expected to be released before the end of the year.

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