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Joint Media Release
Prime Minister
Mr John Howard
&
Premier of Western Australia
Dr Geoff Gallop

4 October 2003

Historic Salinity and Water Quality Agreement Secures $62 Million Funding


More than $62 million will go to tackling salinity and water quality in Western Australia, following an historic agreement between the Australian and Western Australian Governments.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Premier of Western Australia, Dr Geoff Gallop, announced today they have signed the bilateral agreement.

The agreement is part of the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, addressing two of Australia's most pressing environmental and sustainability issues, salinity and water quality.

Mr Howard said the National Action Plan was aimed at bringing governments and local communities together to manage and improve salinity and water quality on a regional scale.

Five Western Australian regions, the South Coast, South West, Avon, Ord and Northern Agricultural, were among 21 selected Australia-wide for action under the National Action Plan.

Mr Howard said the bilateral agreement committed the Australian and State Governments to spend $62 million over five years on real on-ground solutions such as tree planting and fencing, or large-scale engineering works in the five regions.

"The National Action Plan affords all Australians the opportunity to arrest the pervasive effect of salinity and address declining water quality across Australia," Mr Howard said.

"Not only is salinity affecting the viability of our farms but it is eroding our national infrastructure, including roads, buildings, rail lines, cables and pipelines and we need to take concrete steps now to reverse it."

Dr Gallop said the importance of this agreement could not be overestimated.

"In the week that Western Australia is hosting a meeting of a worldwide network of regional governments for sustainable development, this underlines our commitment to local and regional action to tackle serious environmental problems."

Dr Gallop said the National Action Plan spending complemented the $40 million the Western Australian Government spends each year fighting salinity.

"I am very pleased that our two governments have been able to work together to ensure that additional funds will be spent on the ground to fight salinity and improve our water quality," Dr Gallop said.

"The injection of an additional $62million will be a welcome boost to our natural resource management groups who are working tirelessly to reverse the tide of salinity".

"Funding these initiatives is part of the WA Government's commitment to protecting our unique environment for future generations," Dr Gallop said.

Mr Howard said the wider community and all levels of government were involved in the planning process, using the best available science and sound economics.

"I urge people to get involved to ensure that regional communities have ownership of the plans developed for their area - their involvement is the cornerstone of the National Action Plan," he said.

The Commonwealth has committed $157m, to be matched by Western Australia, to fight salinity in Western Australia and is hopeful that the next state budget will identify the additional funds needed for full matching. The two governments have agreed on a process to identify the level of additional funding the WA Government can match against the Commonwealth's total offer of $157million.

More information about the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality is available at www.napswq.gov.au

Commonwealth of Australia