Bill English’s first budget has disappointed many by ditching promised tax cuts, but pleased a few by reinstating a Green home insulation initiative. The Science Media Centre has a handy summary here. There’s $321 million of new money for R&D through a “Primary Growth Partnership” (details due on June 2), which goes some way to offset the loss of Labour’s “Fast Forward” fund, but no money for the promised climate change research centre (it was going to be a “virtual” centre, now it’s actually gone). Reaction in the science community was mixed, as the Science Media Centre documents. Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, director of the He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme at the University of Otago, Wellington commented:
“I’m very pleased to see that there has been multi-partisan agreement about the importance of retrofitting insulation and install sustainable heating and that significant investment has been included in this Budget. There is going to be a ramp up over four years and by the end of that time it is estimated that over a quarter of uninsulated houses in New Zealand will be insulated.
“I think it’s important that the Government is requiring people to insulate their houses before they can access the subsidies for sustainable heaters. This makes physical and energy efficiency sense and is based on sound public health science. There has also been further attempts to increase the incentives for landlords to upgrade their properties, which is important for the 40% of householders that rent in the private sector.
Meanwhile, Prof Paul Callaghan at Victoria University was “disappointed” with the budget:
â€œIf New Zealand is to turbocharge its way out of this recession, we have to develop new export businesses based on knowledge and innovation. What we need are significant new investments to build our innovation system. The 2009/10 budget has not addressed that issue.â€
However, in a fairly clear signal that the Emissions Trading Scheme is going to survive its select committee review, Nick Smith announced increased funding of $6.9 million for developing the Emissions Trading Scheme, “including international linkages”.
[Beatles (rare long version)]