An alliance of more than 70 conservation, farming and land management organisations is lobbying the Morrison government to dedicate $4bn of stimulus spending to employ more than 50,000 people to help repair the environment, ABC News reports.
According to a report by professional services firm Ernst & Young commissioned by the groups, it could create 53,000 jobs over four years planting trees, removing weeds and restoring rivers, wetlands and coastal habitats. It is estimated it would reduce welfare costs by about $620m and increase economic output by about $5.7bn.
It is the latest of several analyses to have found there is a strong economic case for post-Covid stimulus measures to be designed to also help the environment.
A government spokesman said it had been talking with the non-profit organisation Pew Charitable Trusts, which has organised the push, and welcomed the release of the report. The groups behind it hope it will help persuade the government to back a conservation and land management program in the October budget.
They say it would provide safe and socially beneficial work at a time of rapidly rising unemployment and have a lasting positive impact on the environment. It would be focused in regional and rural areas that relied heavily on tourism and were hit particularly hard by the shutdown.
The chief executive of the National Landcare Network, Jim Adams, said the labour-intensive nature of the work and low capital costs meant a high proportion of the proposed spending would flow into employees’ pockets to be spent locally.
Kangaroo Island was listed as one of the areas most economically impacted by COVID-19.(Supplied: Department For Environment And Water)