Labor Leader Kevin Rudd made the greening of Australian business a key theme in Labor’s election campaign launch yesterday, promising $740 million in new funding to reduce the business community’s environmental footprint.
Rudd met expectations of significant funding to assist in the development and commercialisation of renewable energy, promising establish a $500 million fund to provide grants for businesses in that sector.
But he went even further, committing an additional $240 million over four years for help for businesses to green their operations or develop green products or technology. The money will be split three ways:
. $75 million for SME manufacturers to make their processes more environmentally friendly. SMEs manufacturers will be able to apply for grants to fund up to a third of the cost of greening projects, a minimum of $10,000 and maximum of $500,000 per grant.
. $90 million to improve the energy-efficiency of new and existing office buildings. Grants will be available to subsidise up to 50% of the cost of energy saving improvements to a maximum of $200,000 per building.
. $75 million in grants to match dollar-for-dollar money spent by businesses to develop and commercialise green products or technologies in any area.
Significantly, however, $160 million of Labor’s $740 million in green funding will be money taken away from the existing Commercial Ready fund, which offers grants of up to $250,000 for commercialisation of products in any area.
Earlier this year, the Federal Government announced Commercial Ready Plus, a 10-year $90.3 million program, as part of the Australian Government’s Industry Statement.
Yesterday’s commitments mean Labor’s election campaign promises for green businesses now significantly outweigh those made by the Coalition. The centrepiece of the Coalition’s announcements in this area to date has been a $75 million fund for the development and commercialisation of renewable energy technology.