Green Army: Tony Abbott speaks out against axing of environmental project
5th Dec 2016
Former prime minister Tony Abbott says axing the Green Army would “hardly be a smart move for a centre-right government”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull did not confirm reports the employment project — created as part of the Abbott government’s Direct Action policy — would be abolished in this month’s mid-year budget update.
The Financial Review reported that some of the funds saved by the scrapping would be diverted to Landcare, as part of a deal with the Greens on the backpacker tax.
In a Facebook post, Mr Abbott said he was dismayed by the reports the Green Army might be axed by his successor.
“Not only has it been good for grass-roots conservation but it got unemployed people working too,” he said.
“It’s a bad principle to axe your own policy for the Greens policy because it means that their priorities are more important than ours.
“That would hardly be a smart move for a centre-right government.”
The initiative — which employs young people to undertake environmental conservation projects — already faced cuts in last year’s budget and mid-year budget update.
Former deputy prime minister Warren Truss described the Green Army on social media as “an excellent program” that built work skills and was good for the environment.
‘The job will still go on’
Mr Turnbull has refused to be drawn on reports about the abolition of the $350 million environment workforce, saying the Government was committed to environmental programs.
“Landcare is a very good program. It is very much admired and very effective. It is a very effective use of funds,” he said.
“It has enormous community support. I won’t be drawn on the report in the press today.”
But Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the work done by the environmental workforce could continue even if the program is axed.
“I’m happy that we’ve got a further $100 million for Landcare, we’ve announced that,” he said.
“Even if there was an evolving of the Green Army process or a changing of it, the job will still go on, it will just go on under a different name.”