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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

13 May 2004

ALP: N.H.T. R.I.P.

Mark Latham's silence tonight on the future of the $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust has signed its death warrant under a Labor Government.

On a number of occasions, I have challenged Labor to rule out abolishing the Natural Heritage Trust.

On Wednesday in Question Time I again challenged Labor. There was silence from Kelvin Thomson and silence from Mark Latham tonight.

Labor opposed the establishment of the Natural Heritage Trust and has in the past ridiculed the efforts and achievements of some 420,000 volunteers who have devoted time and energy to working on local environmental problems.

Labor does not like the devolution of control to the 56 catchment authorities who plan and manage local community-based environmental action.

ALP Leader Mark Latham has admitted that he came to the leadership "not having turned his mind to the environment." (Canberra Times, 28th February, 2004)

Over many years Labor has whined and carped about the Natural Heritage Trust, which along with the $1.4 billion National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality, has provided communities with the means to put their land on a more sustainable basis.

These communities will no doubt be interested to hear that Mark Latham will scupper the Natural Heritage Trust should he win office.

And what do his Labor state colleagues think? They have all concluded agreements with the Australian Government to get their hands on this vital funding for their local environmental problems.

On the crucial national issue of the Murray-Darling, Mr Latham signalled a new national policy indicating he would abandon the joint plan of the Australian Government and the Labor states to restore the Murray to a healthy working river.

Mr Latham obviously thinks he can design an environment policy that doesn't involve either practical solutions or Australian people. Clearly it shows his disdain for real action and the willingness and imagination of Australians from Darwin to Derwent.

Commonwealth of Australia