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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp MP
&
Federal Member for Grey
Mr Barry Wakelin MP

18 November 2003

Natural Heritage Trust Making a Difference in Grey


More than $18 million in funding for the vast Grey electorate has boosted environmental action across the Eyre Peninsula, Rangelands and Aboriginal lands, from the Flinders Ranges to the Great Australian Bight and Simpson Desert, Australian Environment and Heritage Minister, Dr David Kemp, said today.

Dr Kemp, along with Mr Barry Wakelin, Federal Member for Grey, inspected the Roxby Downs Arid Recovery project, the Tod River Catchment, and the Port Lincoln Wastewater Treatment Plant, which have received $236,361, $520,000 and $1,867, 293 respectively in funding from the Howard Government's $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

Dr Kemp said one of the electorate's greatest threats was a decline in potable water quality. Extraction rates on the Eyre Peninsula, for example, were often at their maximum sustainable levels, placing the region's already short supply of water at critical levels.

"The involvement of communities and landholders in on-ground actions for the Tod River Catchment will start to reverse this decline," Dr Kemp said.

"Tod River Catchment projects have targeted on-ground works such as river/stream protection, reducing the impact of dryland salinity, revegetation and protecting remnant vegetation.

"We're determined to clean up and repair Australia's rivers and to improve flows so that water-dependent ecosystems can function naturally, and water supplies for consumption and production can be relied upon and managed for the future".

A draft natural resource management plan for the Eyre Peninsula, Investment Strategy for the Eyre Peninsula Region, indicated that unsustainable water harvesting, extraction and use is ranked the highest priority for funding out of 12 key management issues prioritised in the region.

Mr Wakelin commended the work of the Arid Recovery Project at Roxby Downs, which is addressing threatened species decline. Foxes, cats and rabbits have been eradicated after volunteers fenced off a 60 square km area, while vegetation monitoring sites have also recorded significant native plant regeneration. Local threatened species have been reintroduced, including the greater bilby, greater stick-nest rat and burrowing bettong.

"One of the Australian Government Envirofund activities under the Recovery Project is an upcoming visit to Arnhem Land Aboriginal Dhimurru Community, to discuss the possibility of re-introducing a golden bandicoot sub-species which used to occur at Roxby Downs".

Dr Kemp also inspected the Port Lincoln wastewater treatment plant, where 850 ML (710 Olympic swimming pools) of wastewater from Port Lincoln Tuna Processors is treated for high-quality ocean discharge.

"This project is a good example of how we can operate in a smarter way by achieving multiple benefits for the environment and the economy," he said.

For further information on how the Natural Heritage Trust is assisting communities across Australia, visit http://www.nht.gov.au

Commonwealth of Australia