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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
11 May 1996
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has urged Australia's surfers to step up the fight for the nation's beaches.
Senator Hill has today opened the National Conference of the Surfrider Foundation at Bondi Beach in Sydney.
Senator Hill says the on-going efforts of groups such as the Surfrider Foundation are helping to turn the tide of degradation of our coastal region.
"Our coastline is one of our nation's greatest natural assets. For far too long we have taken it for granted.
"No-one knows our beaches and coastal regions as intimately as our surfers. They have a unique insight into the damage we have done and continue to do to the coast.
"No-one is more passionate about our beaches as our surfers. That's why we need them to take the lead in the debate about the future management and protection of our coastline.
"They need to be showing the rest of Australia that protection of our beaches is not enough. We now must go a step further and commit ourselves to restoring our beaches and repairing the damage we have already done.
"The graphic images of devastation along the coastlines of Queensland and New South Wales from recent storms are a timely reminder of just how fragile our coastal regions are."
Senator Hill says the Federal Government is committed to restoring Australia's beaches through its $1-Billion Natural Heritage Trust.
"It is pointless to say we care about our beaches and we want to save them but then say we can't find the money.
"The Coalition has found the money - $100 million for the Coasts and Clean Seas Initiative and $254 million through the National Vegetation Initiative. Those programs are ready to roll as soon as the funds flow in from the sale of one-third of Telstra.
"I'm sure Australia's surfers would condemn any political party which put an ideological debate over the ownership of a telecommunications company ahead of the national priority of saving our beaches."
For further information contact Matt Brown on 0419 693 515.