Media Release

Federal Budget priority: addressing climate change

February 1 2021

The Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) has urged the Federal Government to focus this year’s Budget on fast-tracking Australia’s climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy, supported by investment in the education and skills of the future workforce.

ATSE Chief Executive Kylie Walker said investment in the skills, infrastructure and research to support an innovation economy are paramount as Australia recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and addresses the accelerating threat of climate change to infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, biodiversity and natural environment.

“Increasing investment in STEM education and research translation will propel growth in innovation, build economic and environmental resilience, and strengthen Australia’s capacity to respond to the serious challenges posed by the pandemic and climate change,” Ms Walker said.

“The horrific bushfires in the summer of 2019-20 affected millions of Australians, with the projected total cost to the Australian economy in the order of $70 billion.

“Australia must adopt long-term, bipartisan policies and programs to support mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, and a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.

“Supporting the rapid deployment of renewable energy and investing in rapid development for ‘clean’ industries could create over 75,000 jobs in the next three years in economic sectors and regions hardest hit by the COVID-19 downturn.”

ATSE recommends that priority be given to translation of research, STEM education and career pathways to drive innovation in Australia’s recovery from COVID-19, and to help address future challenges such as climate change.

“Australia’s future prosperity will rely on the quality and reach of STEM education, and ongoing capability development for a diverse innovative, knowledge-based workforce,” Ms Walker said.

ATSE commends the Government’s commitment to ensuring industry-relevant higher education and job-ready graduates but believes the work must begin earlier – when Australia’s future innovators are in primary school.

“As a nation, we’re failing to encourage sufficient school students to take the senior secondary subjects that underpin further studies or employment in the many and growing areas that depend on STEM”.

Read ATSE’s pre-Budget submission.

Media contact: Liz Foschia 0419 976 903

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is a Learned Academy of independent experts helping Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.