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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
23 December 2002
The Commonwealth rejected today as "dishonest" a press release issued by the new Victorian Environmental Minister, claiming that the Commonwealth has "slashed" environmental funding for Victoria.
"Commonwealth funding for environment programmes through the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality rose from the $39.9 million in 2001-02 to nearly $45 million this year (2002-03). This figure, which includes funding for regional NHT projects, Australian Government Envirofund grants and for national Natural Heritage Trust projects (yet to announced), will total $21.5 million. A further $23 million funding will be provided for NAP projects and next year funding will rise to $50.1 million (2003-04)," Dr Kemp said.
"The truth is that the Commonwealth has increased funding for environmental programmes in Victoria this year and will be further increasing them again next year," Dr David Kemp, the Federal Environment Minister said today.
Dr Kemp said that there was a national agreement that salinity had to be given priority in addressing environmental issues, and that the changing balance of Commonwealth funds between programmes reflected that.
"It is disappointing that Victoria has tried to score cheap and dishonest political points by failing to mention that the Commonwealth's environmental spending in Victoria was giving higher priority to salinity issues this year and that the total Commonwealth spending in Victoria for the environment was actually increasing."
Mr Thwaites also failed to acknowledge that under the new Natural Heritage Trust bilateral Victoria had agreed to match funding from the Commonwealth at the regional level, and that this would mean much better targeting of funds at priority environmental projects.
"The Commonwealth has sought to put in place cooperative arrangements with the States. Victoria's attempt to mislead the community about the direction of environmental programmes does not bode well for that cooperation," Dr Kemp said.
Dr Kemp said Mr Thwaites was a new Environment Minister and should look closely at the advice he was receiving before rushing to print.
Catherine Job Dr Kemp's Office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400