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

15 May 2002

Labor's Dodgy Figures Can't Disguise the Truth

No cuts to the National Action Plan on Salinity
No cuts to the Natural Heritage Trust
No cuts to Greenhouse Gas Abatement programs
Increased spending on biodiversity
Increased spending on National Parks
Record spending on the environment
More than double Labor's last effort

No wonder Kelvin Thomson was demoted from his former post as Shadow Assistant Treasurer - he can't read a Budget statement.

His press release is full of inaccuracies, untruths and some laughable mistakes.

The ALP can't disguise the most important fact - the Howard Government spends far more on the environment than any previous Federal Government. The Howard Government spends two-and-a-half times as much as Labor did in its last year in office.

Last night's Budget contained record environment spending of $1.8 billion, an increase of $198 million over last year.

The facts are:

1. Funding for biodiversity has been boosted, not cut.
Kelvin claims spending on biodiversity has been cut from $150.8 to $83.1 million dollars. Kelvin includes NHT funding in the first figure but not in the second. Apples and oranges. Biodiversity spending increases from $150.8 to $175.7 once NHT funding is factored in.

2. Funding for National Parks is being boosted, not cut.
Kelvin makes the same mistake here. Far from reducing from $70.6 to $56.2 million, National Parks received $77.7 million in the current year, including NHT funds - a rise of $7.1 million.

3. Landcare.
Same mistake again. Landcare funding increased in the current year - but more slowly than the Federal government had planned. This is because the Labor states nobbled the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality before the Federal election and so slowed down the rollout of this vital programme.

4. The National Action Plan on Salinity has not been cut.
This vital seven year, $1.4 billion programme will be delivered in full. Unfortunately, the Labor states put politics ahead of the environment last year and refused to sign up until after the election. All states have now signed except for WA. The money has now begun to roll, but it has essentially been delayed for a year. If Kelvin has a problem with this he should take it up with his Labor state colleagues.

5. There are NO cuts to the Natural Heritage Trust.
Every last dollar of the $1.3 billion invested in the Trust following the Telstra sale will have been spent by 30th June - with more to come from interest on Trust monies.

A further $1 billion of new money has just been allocated for the second stage - NHT2.

Spending under the Trust over the last five years has averaged $245 million per year. There are annual variations due to projects being held over for simple reasons - like the weather. It is not wise to proceed with a treeplanting project in the middle of a drought. It is sensible to wait until it rains. When a project is held up, the money is not cut. It stays in the Trust and will be spent on Natural Heritage projects.

6. There are NO cuts to the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Programme.
Every dollar of the $400 million promised will be delivered. Some money has been rephased to later years to better reflect the ability of business and the community to take up these grants at the rate predicted. Rather than shovelling out the money regardless, the rephasing will ensure wiser investment and better Greenhouse outcomes.

However, in these tight budgetary times, a modest amount of $5.7 million is being saved from a small number of projects that have not proceeded as planned due to technical or business issues.

7. Measures for a Better Environment.
Kelvin is double-counting. This budget item is made up of others that Kelvin has already mentioned.

Kelvin's "shonky figures"
Kelvin says the new Customs measures for Marine Surveillance should not have been included. He is quite wrong. These are genuine environmental measures that will result in better reporting of environmental damage and illegal fishing incursions.

This is the greenest budget ever delivered by the greenest Australian government in history.

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

Commonwealth of Australia