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Budget 2024-25 - Climate and health: missing in action

Doctors for the Environment Australia has described this year's budget as a missed opportunity to address the impacts of worsening climate change on the health of Australians.

DEA’s executive Director and GP, Dr Kate Wylie, states “It is extremely upsetting that there is no budgetary support for climate and health. 

“The government recognised climate change as our “greatest public health threat” in their National Health and Climate Strategy, released with much fanfare last December at COP28, yet they are unable to find any money in the public purse to fund it.”

“What is the point of having a strategy if you are not going to back it up with budgetary support?”, states Dr Wylie. 

“Our government has failed in its duty of care to protect Australians from the health harms of global heating. What adds insult to injury, is that the government continues to expand gas exports despite being well aware that fossil fuels, like gas, are the primary cause of global heating and the resultant health emergency.” 

In its pre-budget submission, Doctors for the Environment Australia called for the federal government to properly fund Australia’s first National Health and Climate Strategy. 

We need a rapid implementation of the Strategy to protect Australians from the significant health threats of climate change, minimise Australia’s health sector’s significant contribution to climate pollution, while delivering sustainable, high quality health care for patients and financial savings to the community. 

Dr Kate Wylie, goes on to say “Our health is being harmed by climate change. On the ground, healthcare workers are treating people impacted by climate health events like heat waves, fires, floods, storms and sea level rise, as well as the mental health effects that go with them. ”

“There are also the indirect effects of loss of infrastructure, pressure on health and emergency services, food and water insecurity, displacement and increased cost of living. All of which places increased pressure on our already overburdened healthcare systems.” 

Professor Eugenie Kayak, Co-Convenor to DEA’s Sustainable Healthcare committee, agrees that “it is bitterly disappointing” that the budget has failed to adequately fund implementation of the National Health and Climate Strategy.

“The Strategy was an excellent start towards protecting Australians from the significant health threats of climate change and addressing the need for the healthcare sector to ‘get its own house in order’ and deliver sustainable, high quality health care,” says Professor Kayak.


Other Budget comments from Dr Kate Wylie:

Future Made in Australia policy

“DEA welcomes Labor’s initiatives to provide $23 billion over ten years to manufacturing industries, including solar panels and green hydrogen, to grow Australia's clean industries.

This will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases and will ultimately improve health and protect our children's future.

However the outcome the Government wants from this investment is unclear, given Labor’s recent announcement of the Future Gas Strategy which continues to support toxic fossil fuels.

Gas will increase carbon dioxide and methane emissions, directly increasing the greenhouse effect and global heating. Gas extraction itself harms health and is associated with air pollution, cancer, lung and heart disease. 

Environment protection

You have to ask: how serious is the Government’s commitment to protecting Australia’s unique but vulnerable environment? There is nothing in this budget to help address the urgent environmental crisis facing Australia.

Labor committed to overhauling Australia’s outdated environment laws, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which governs the protection of places and species, and approvals for major projects. 

However, the Government recently announced that these laws had been delayed indefinitely, hampering efforts to protect biodiversity and species extinction as a result of pressure from the WA Labor government and the mining and resources industries.



DEA in its pre-budget submission called for:

  • Provision for sufficient funding to implement the National Health and Climate Strategy, and to support the leadership, engagement and coordination functions of the National Health, Sustainability and Climate Unit, in recognition that climate change is the greatest public health problem facing humanity.
  • Support for a just transition to renewable energy, enhancing the uptake of renewables domestically and reducing our reliance on fossil fuel exports, acknowledging the negative health impacts of fossil fuel combustion from Pollution and global heating.
  • Support for biodiversity by protecting 30% of our land, freshwater and ocean ecosystems as per the Global Biodiversity Framework and stopping deforestation, acknowledging the health harms of biodiversity loss and habitat destruction.
  • Support for policies and actions that increase local resilience to climate change and protect health i.e. greener cities, cool refuges and rooms, active transport infrastructure, local energy resilience and fire safety.



Australian Federal Budget 2024-5, Paper 2

DEA’s Pre-Budget Submission 2024-5

Australia’s National Health and Climate Strategy: the next steps, Insight+

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