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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss

13 May 2003

$3.4 Billion Commitment to Biodiversity in Flagship Programmes

The Commonwealth Government continues its historic environmental rescue effort with a commitment of $3.4 billion to protect and restore the land and water resources on which our plants, animals and economy depend.

$363.8 million will be spent in 2003-04 alone on range of community-based projects under the Commonwealth's flagship environmental programmes, the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust and the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, which is jointly funded with the states and territories.

The Federal Ministers for Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, said the projects would target Australia's most pressing environmental issues.

"The Trust and National Action Plan represent Australia's biggest environmental rescue effort," Dr Kemp said. "And, after six years of hands-on projects involving the efforts of over 400,000 Australians, the Trust has entered an exciting new phase that will see regional communities identifying their own priorities and taking action to address them.

"The National Action Plan is progressing, with the signing of bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and States (except WA), regional bodies set up in 21 priority regions across Australia and regional plans being developed.

"The extended Trust complements the National Action Plan by directly investing in projects to improve water quality through its four main programmes - Rivercare, Coastcare, Landcare and Bushcare," he said.

Mr Truss said today's Budget funding would help ensure communities in the 21 priority regions continue to tackle vital issues such as dryland salinity and poor water quality.

"The key to the success of Trust and National Action Plan projects is that they use regional plans to tackle regional problems, and draw on the expertise and know-how of local communities," he said. "They are also supported by targeted Government assistance and the best available science," he said. "And that's essential if we are to get on top of the serious issues threatening Australia's rural industries, regional communities and unique environment."

The Ministers said the Budget investment would help pave the way for a more sustainable future for Australia's primary industries as well as our unique environment.

Media Contacts:
Dr Kemp's office Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Mr Truss's office Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

Commonwealth of Australia