Budget analysis

The 2024-25 Budget includes investments in offshore wind, renewable energy zones and water recycling. 

The Victorian Government said the Budget is designed to help Victorian families drive down the cost of their energy bills, protect the great outdoors and back the state’s world-class agricultural sector.

A $1.8 billion investment in the Budget is designed to deliver more opportunities to explore the state, safeguard the agricultural sector and help the government meet its ambitious emissions reduction targets of 75-80 per cent by 2035.

The government said it will add an extra $37.7 million to the more than $624 million in rebates approved since 2018, expected to deliver more than 330,000 systems as part of the Solar Homes program – helping Victorians turn their roofs into power stations and run their homes more efficiently.

The government said it has also brought back the State Electricity Commission in an effort to deliver reliable and affordable government-owned renewable energy for Victorians. 

A $5.9 million investment for a strategic review of the Victorian Energy Upgrades program is designed to be the key driver to help more Victorians electrify their homes and businesses, slashing power bills and reducing emissions. The government said that electrification is the best way to lower power prices for families. 

The Budget includes a further $8.7 million designed to help Victorians save on their power bills, including via the Energy Compare website. 

With more than 26 million visits since 2015, the website provides free independent energy bill comparisons so that Victorians can ensure they’re getting the best deal, currently saving them around $170 if they switch to the best electricity offer in the market. 

$3.4 million will also be invested in the Energy Assistance Program, which helps families access free, one-on-one advice on saving energy, understanding bills and accessing hardship programs and concessions.

To continue the state’s offshore wind program, the Budget will invest $18.3 million towards achieving 2GW by 2032 – enough energy to power 1.5 million homes while creating more jobs in regional Victoria. 

Renewable energy projects require years of planning to deliver the best outcomes for the community and the environment. The government will invest $17.5 million to accelerate the renewable energy transition with earlier biodiversity assessments and better planning processes for new projects.

As Victoria transitions towards 95 per cent renewable energy by 2035, the government said it needs to plan transmission and renewable energy zones carefully – as such, the Budget has allocated $12.5 million for VicGrid to continue the Victorian Transmission Investment Framework, ensuring local communities are engaged and represented through developments. 

An investment of $691 million is designed to protect the state’s water supply. $95.7 million will be allocated for local projects designed to increase the use of recycled water and stormwater to keep parks and gardens green all year round. 

The Budget will also invest $140 million to improve the understanding of groundwater and surface water through data collection and analysis, designed to help the government better prepare for future demand for water as the state’s population grows. 

$270 million will be delivered for waterway health initiatives across the state, with projects to protect Victoria’s Ramsar‑listed wetlands, address erosion and help improve habitat for native fish populations, as well as restoring regional waterways, giving people better access to swimming and other water activities at rivers and creeks. 

$41.2 million will be invested to improve Traditional Owners’ access to water and water management, designed to give Victoria’s First Peoples more support to care for Country. $2.15 million will continue the joint management of Barmah National Park with the Yorta Yorta Traditional Owners who have managed the land for thousands of years.

The Budget will also invest in Victoria’s much-loved coastlines, with $3.2 million for the Growing the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park project, protecting coastal environments in the state’s east.

Victoria has been hit by devastating floods, storms and fires over the past year – which, for many communities, adds to the toll of successive years of disasters. Recovery takes time, and the government said it will continue to be with those affected every step of the way.

The Budget will invest $302 million for the continued clean-up, rebuild and repair of disaster-hit areas across Victoria, including more than $50 million for clean-up following the 2023-24 floods, storms and fires. 

It also includes $99 million to clean, repair and re-open roads and public land, alongside $122 million for community recovery from the bushfires and storms. This funding will cover hardship payments, rebates, mental health support and levy waivers at waste depots.

The Budget also allocates $1.7 million to continue providing temporary accommodation to Victorians affected by the October 2022 floods.

The Budget will invest $105 million to strengthen the state’s bushfire prevention and response, including $34 million for new fire trucks for the CFA and FRV.

$36.9 million will fund the work of Forest Fire Operational Officers, as well as $20 million to upgrade critical forest fire emergency response equipment and deliver flood mitigation infrastructure for regional communities. A further $11.6 million will help future-proof water infrastructure against climate change. 

The Budget will invest $59.8 million to develop sustainable irrigation practices designed to support farmers and communities to save water and become more drought-resilient – as well as supporting them to prepare for future droughts in partnership with the Federal Government through a combined investment of $20.4 million in the Future Drought Fund. 

$22.4 million will be allocated to the transformation of the waste and recycling sector, including the continued rollout of the four-bin system and the delivery of more waste levy relief for the charitable recycling sector, designed to help prevent illegal dumping and help charities’ critical work.

Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Climate Action and the State Electricity Commission, Lily D’Ambrosio, said, “We’re helping families lower their energy bills when they need it most, with more ways than ever to electrify and use renewable energy to power homes cheaply, reliably and sustainably.” 

Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Ros Spence, said, “We’re proud to back Victoria’s world-class agriculture industry, helping farmers prepare for the effects of a changing climate and protecting our state from emerging biosecurity risks.”

Victorian Minister for Water, Harriet Shing, said, “Water is our most precious resource – that’s why we’re investing in a secure water supply for every Victorian and helping communities and waterways adapt so they are better protected from extreme floods and droughts.”

Victorian Minister for Environment, Steve Dimopoulos, said, “This summer, we again saw the amazing efforts of our forest firefighters. We’re proud to back their work – providing the tools and technology they need to keep communities safe.”

Image: https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Thapana+Onphalai

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