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

21 February 2002

Kelvin Gets it Wrong Again

Labor's Environment spokesman, Kelvin Thomson, should learn to read Budget papers instead of publicly embarrassing himself with his ignorance.

Mr Thomson is claiming that in last year's budget the government slashed funding for the Australian Greenhouse Office.

A quick glance at last year's budget papers shows that this did not happen.

The documents he has used were prepared for last year's budget - in which the Howard government delivered new funding and ensured the maintenance of the AGO's activities.

He has misread the document he quotes from, and he has failed to catch up with last year's budget. He has treated a pre-budget document as if it was a post-budget document.

All the document says is that in the absence of new monies "the price of AGO outputs reduces by 45% from $69m in 2000-01 to $36m in 2001-02".

Essentially the document was saying no more than that because of lapsing programmes, the AGO needed additional new money in the Budget to continue its work. Anyone familiar with budget documents knows that forward estimates often show declining funding in the out years because some current programmes are scheduled to expire while future, unannounced programmes, are not included.

The Shadow Minister says the AGO's budget was slashed. In fact it received new money of $46 m in the last Budget. Its activities were not threatened.

We are seeing why Labor had so much trouble with its figuring before the last election. Its shadow assistant treasurer cannot read budget documents.

The Howard Government has made Australia a world leader in tackling climate change and greenhouse gases by devoting more money to environmental programs than any other government and establishing the Australian Greenhouse Office, (a world first), with a budget of nearly a billion dollars.

The Howard Government will continue in its leadership role on climate change. Mr Thomson should devote himself to learning more about his new shadow portfolio instead of attempting a cheap political shot - and missing.

For further information contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia