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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

14 May 2002

Government to Spend Record $1.8 Billion on Environment

The Commonwealth Government will spend over $1.8 billion to protect Australia's environment next financial year, $198 million more than in 2001-02.

"This is a record level of expenditure by any Federal Government to conserve and restore Australia's environment," said the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp.

Dr Kemp said the 2002-03 Budget delivered key election promises including funding for a new National Coastal Policy and for the national rescue effort for the Murray Darling Basin. He said the Budget demonstrates the Howard Government's historic level of commitment to the restoration and protection of the Australian environment and Australia's heritage.

"The Natural Heritage Trust is being extended for the next five years with a $1 billion injection. Together with the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, a joint programme of the Commonwealth and States, this represents the greatest commitment by any Commonwealth Government to the environment since Federation.

"A key focus of the next phase of the Natural Heritage Trust will be water quality. At least $350 million of the new Trust funding will be spent directly on measures to improve water quality. For example, Rivercare projects will support improved land and water practices that affect the health of our rivers. Coastcare and Rivercare funding will also target coastal and urban water quality hot spots such as the Parramatta River, Moreton Bay, Port Adelaide, the Derwent Estuary, Port Phillip Bay, the Cooks and Georges Rivers and the Swan/Canning Rivers.

"The Prime Minister has said that dryland salinity is our greatest environmental challenge. The reality of the threat it poses to the natural environment, to farming, to communities, to water quality and to biodiversity in our naturally salinity-prone country is with us right now.

"Under both the National Action Plan and the Natural Heritage Trust, the Commonwealth Government will be working to mobilise communities to develop and implement integrated natural resource management plans that address Australia's critical environmental and production issues.

"The Budget renews the Commonwealth commitment to combating greenhouse gases with funding of almost $1 billion since 1997.

"The Government will progress the vital work of ensuring the sustainable use of our coasts and oceans and the protection of areas of high conservation value. As promised, this will include a new National Coastal Policy that will conserve and restore coastal and estuarine biodiversity, encourage ecologically sustainable use of coastal and estuarine resources and bring about much needed coordination and planning for the coastal zone.

"The marine environment will also benefit significantly from the Budget's allocation of $243.5 million to coastal and offshore surveillance and response - an increase of $38 million over last year," Dr Kemp said. "Customs' extra aerial and marine surveillance will include an increased capacity to detect and report significant abundance or mortality of wild life, oil pollution and other environmental damage.

"The Government will also continue to pursue a permanent global ban on commercial whaling and seek to establish a sanctuary for whales in the South Pacific."

A Budget commitment of $32.8 million to environmental improvements by the Department of Defence - Australia's biggest landholder - underscores the Commonwealth's commitment to green government and to setting an example in sustainable development.

The environmental initiatives in the 2002-03 Budget include:

The funding to protect Australia's environment reflects the Commonwealth's breadth of effort to involve as many Australians as possible in restoring and protecting our environment for current and future generations.

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia