Ernst and Young prepared a report for the alliance of more than 70 organisations. It said many of the communities hardest hit by coronavirus were in regional areas and suffering from loss of tourism.
The report found that a $4 billion national program spend would generate 53,000 jobs, reduce welfare costs by $620 million and raise economic output by $5.7 billion over the next four years – with economic gains rising to $9.3 billion over the next 20 years.
A $2 billion program was estimated to increase jobs by 31,000 jobs and boost economic output by $4.7 billion, while a $500 million program would create 8,000 jobs and boost economic output by $1.2 billion.
New Zealand has invested $1.1 billion in environmental projects to generate 11,000 jobs as part of their coronavirus stimulus response. Last week the US Senate passed a $9.65 billion package in the Great American Outdoors Bill, aiming to generate up to 100,000 jobs through works in national parks and public lands.
Ernst and Young said particular benefits of a regional environment stimulus are its ability to employ many workers with no previous experience, accommodate workers who have lost their jobs in other sectors, and its ability to “temporarily transfer workers who have lost their job in different industries may prevent displacement of people to other regions”.
Natural Resource Management Regions Australia chief executive Kate Andrews, whose organisation is funded by public and private investments, said an environment stimulus could be rolled out swiflty and simply.
“Right now tens of thousands of people are unemployed and unsure when they will get their jobs back. By scaling up existing conservation and land management work we can give these people jobs right away while the economy recovers,” Ms Andrews said.
The groups calling for environment stimulus spending include Landcare, National Farmers Federation, NRM Regions Australia, Australian Land Conservation Alliance, Australian Conservation Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts.