What are they thinking? The New South Wales Liberal government’s Five Million Trees initiative is a complete waste of taxpayer money and is yet another example of how the party is out of touch with its constituency. In an effort to meet its net zero emissions target by 2050, the NSW Government has dedicated $37.5 million to have the public plant five million trees by 2030. If people want to plant trees, they can. They do not need the government frivolously spending this money that could easily be put towards more effective climate-based programs and schemes.
The Five Million Trees project aims to increase the tree canopy in Sydney, creating shade and possibly increasing property value. These are not issues of major concern to the city’s residents, especially the Liberal’s traditional voters. It’s policies like these that alienate the voter base from the party, leaving your average libertarian and conservative, who’d prefer to see lower taxes and more action on practical issues like the development of rural NSW, voiceless.
If a lack of tree canopy is a concern to the people of Greater Sydney, there’s nothing stopping them from planting trees anyway. Perhaps those that are virtue signalling for environmental action should get out their own gardening gloves. The government should not be subsidising what is essentially landscaping. The grants used for the promotion of this project are a ridiculous and unsubstantiated use of hard-earned taxpayer money.
On top of the Five Million Trees project, the NSW Government plans to invest $1.4 billion into several programs over a five-year period. This investment comes from the Climate Change Fund, and it covers initiatives such as discounts for energy efficient appliances and infrastructure, national energy regulation, and a primary industries climate change research strategy. This obvious government intervention in the market is excessive and goes against the Liberal belief of free enterprise. It also seems to be in complete opposition to the federal Party’s platform of focusing on reducing energy prices/subsidies. The party is operating on a disunited front in regard to energy and climate action, which is damaging the Liberal brand.
As a general rule, those who vote for the Liberal Party are voting for smaller government, lower taxes, and individual freedom. With the state election coming up in March, it is crucial for the NSW Liberals to get back in touch with both their and their constituents’ values. It is important to look after the environment, but not in a way in which the government is unnecessarily involved, and that makes practically no impact on the global climate. This looks like an effort to ‘appease the left’ at the expense of the Coalition’s values, and it will undoubtedly lose them votes at the election.
The Five Million Trees project is advertised to look like it’s incentivising a cleaner environment, but the incentive comes at the cost of the taxpayers with no tangible benefit that will become clear any time soon. This outrageous cost of $37.5 million will not boost the economy as the government claims, but will serve as a burden to the people of NSW who are already struggling with energy costs due to the government’s new net zero emissions target and the immoderate subsidies of renewable power.
The project seems more fitting of a Labor government and shows the disconnect between the Liberals and their supporters.
The simple fact is that NSW residents could easily go out and plant trees of their own volition, and don’t need the government spending their money on fatuous – and most likely – fruitless campaigns that will never take sprout and catch on.
Mackenzie Lofts is a research associate with the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance
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