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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss

14 May 2002

Salinity and Water Quality Top Priority in Budget

The Commonwealth Government will spend $100.7 million to tackle salinity and improve water quality next financial year as a part of the seven year $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.

The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, said that with commitment by the States to the joint action plan, the Commonwealth could take unprecedented action to address these pressing environmental and resource management issues.

"South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales have all signed bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth to implement the National Action Plan," Dr Kemp said.

"The National Action Plan targets the 21 regions worst affected by salinity and poor water quality. It enables communities to take responsibility for planning and implementing natural resource management strategies, in partnership with governments.

"Governments are investing in actions highlighted in the community-driven strategies that address salinity and water quality problems."

Mr Truss said the Government had already funded actions in priority regions, ahead of accreditation of their integrated natural resource management plans.

"There are some urgent activities that we can get on with now rather than wait until the plans are in place," he said. "These range from large scale engineering works to tree planting and fencing, and from data gathering to airborne salinity mapping.

"Regional bodies in South Australia and Victoria's priority regions have all received 'foundation funding' to help them develop their regional plans for accreditation by the Commonwealth and State Governments. Over the next few months, funding will be allocated to other regional bodies in those States that have Bilateral Agreements with the Commonwealth to provide similar assistance.

"We hope that agreements to implement the National Action Plan with Western Australia and the Northern and Australian Capital Territories will be finalised soon," Mr Truss said.

Media Contacts:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Andrew Hall (Mr Truss's office) (02) 6277 7520 or 0419 996 766

Commonwealth of Australia