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

13 May 2003

$168.5 million for Built Environment in 2004

Australia will celebrate the Year of the Built Environment in 2004, with a Commonwealth commitment of $168.5 million in 2003-04 to protect our built heritage and help make urban life more sustainable, the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, announced today.

"As the Government tackles the problems of land degradation, salinity and water quality in regional Australia, we will also be focusing on the nation's built environment with two exciting new programmes announced in today's Budget to build on the work already under way through a range of Commonwealth programmes," Dr Kemp said.

"A five-year, $40 million Sustainable Cities programme, developed in collaboration with the Australian Democrats and Senator Lees, will focus on improving the environment for the 17 million Australians who live in our towns and cities - 87 per cent of our population.

"A four-year, $52.6 million heritage programme, Distinctively Australian, will identify, protect and manage the buildings and other places that help define our national identity - from our homes, monuments and halls to industrial complexes, wharves, city and country infrastructure.

"The Year of the Built Environment will explore buildings and the way we use them, how we travel between them and how almost every aspect of our urban lifestyle impacts on our natural environment. It will highlight how, through managing industrial or household wastes, air and waterway pollution or the production of greenhouse gases Australians can make a contribution towards a more sustainable Australia.

"The Commonwealth will contribute $500,000 to celebrating the Year and the major programmes that focus on the built environment, highlighting the $168.5 million that will be spent by the Government in 2003-04. Other built environment programmes funded in this year's Budget include:

"During the Year of the Built Environment, the Commonwealth will focus not only on buildings, but on our urban way of life as a whole," Dr Kemp said.

"For example, my department's Sustainable Cities programme, announced tonight, includes the development of a National Australian Buildings Ratings Scheme; a water efficiency labeling system for household appliances like dishwashers and washing machines and extension of the successful Photovoltaic Rebate to encourage householders to use solar energy.

"New fuel quality standards will continue to improve urban air quality, and partnerships with industry will encourage more action on waste, from plastic bags, packaging, hazardous chemicals and electrical goods, to cigarette butts, used tyres and end-of-life vehicles.

"We will also be working closely with local government on continuing programmes like the Australian Greenhouse Office's Cities for Climate Protection, encouraging local communities to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

"From an historical perspective, the Distinctively Australian programme will ensure that buildings that have helped to define our distinct national identity, from slab huts to the Opera House, will be well-managed, protected and better appreciated by us all."

Dr Kemp said events and activities for the Year of the Built Environment will be coordinated by his department in partnership with the Western Australian government and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.

"We look forward to working with these partners and other governments, Commonwealth agencies and non-government organisations in making the Year a success," he said. "It will be a welcome opportunity for Australians to look at what we have learnt and can do better in the future, particularly in such areas as design quality, sustainable urban development, building codes, heritage conservation, water management and energy conservation.

"The built environment is relevant to us all - from the houses we live in to the way we plan our cities and the way our buildings impact on the natural environment. The $168.5 million whole of government commitment to the built environment includes $107.8 million in measures for human settlements across other portfolios such as Transport, Treasury and the CSIRO's $30 million focus on cities; $34.5 million for built aspects of heritage spending across all portfolios and $2.7 million for Cities for Climate Protection.

"It would be particularly appropriate if the Commonwealth could celebrate the year with the World Heritage listing of Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building, which was recently accepted for consideration by the World Heritage Committee. If successful, this will become the first Australian building to achieve World Heritage status."

Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia