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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

8 August 2001
EMBARGOED UNTIL 1am Thursday, August 9

Australia Balances Environment with an Expanding Economy


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has welcomed this year's OECD Economic Survey for positively recognising Australia's attempts to balance the environment with a growing economy.

"This report recognises Australia's particular problems with managing resources and notes our innovations - the report notes our water trading program for example, describing the program as the widest reaching in the OECD," Senator Hill said.

"The report also recognises the Federal Government is moving the agenda forward in tackling water reform, greenhouse and salinity.

"It recognises the Government's commitment through the National Salinity and Water Action Plan and through the Australian Greenhouse Office."

Senator Hill said Australia was at the forefront in developing domestic programs to tackle greenhouse gas reductions but the report has taken a 'Eurocentric' approach, suggesting Australia should focus more on taxation. The Government rejects this approach.

"This Government does not believe more taxes are the answer to reducing Australia's greenhouse emissions," Senator Hill said.

"This Government has committed $1 billion to a wide-reaching national greenhouse response and this remains one of the biggest investments per capita in the world.

"The latest greenhouse figures show Australia is starting to decouple greenhouse emissions from economic growth. Through our own innovative programs, which support the rapidly expanding renewable energy market and improved energy efficiency, this trend should continue.

"Furthermore, the Australian Greenhouse Office is administering one of the most effective programs of voluntary industry action in the world - Greenhouse Challenge.

"Under this program, more than 500 companies have committed to avoiding 23 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions, accounting for more than 47 per cent of emissions from Australia's business and industry sectors. These companies know that reducing greenhouse emissions is a wise economic decision.

"The Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program (GGAP) supports actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Government has already approved projects expected to deliver 17 million tonnes of real emissions savings and a second round of selection for funding is under way.

"The Government has also legislated to guarantee enough new renewable electricity will be generated by Australia's power stations over the next 10 years to supply the residential needs of a city of four million people. The legislation is also expected to generate in excess of $2 billion of new investment in renewable energy in Australia."

"This Government does not want to stifle industry, this Government wants to find good, cost-effective ways to significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and in turn, significantly reduce our greenhouse emissions."

Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Media Contact: Belinda Huppatz 02 6277 7640 or 0419 258364

Commonwealth of Australia