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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

14 November 2000

WA's Wheatbelt to receive priority salinity funding

30% of Australia's landscape could be affected by dryland salinity within 20 years. There are also major concerns that Adelaide's drinking water will be undrinkable two out of every five days over the same period. Therefore salinity and water quality is a major focus of a tour of the Western Australian wheatbelt by Dr Shaman Stone MP.

Dr Stone, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, will visit the Wallatin Catchment this Thursday to examine first hand the dryland salinity problems and solutions being tackled in Western Australia's Central Wheatbelt.

"Dryland salinity is one of Australia's most serious environmental issues. More than 2.5 million hectares of land are currently affected, with recent estimates suggesting this could rise to more than 15 million hectares," Sharman Stone said.

"More than $270 million per year is lost in agricultural production, damage to infrastructure, such as roads and buildings, loss of biodiversity and degradation of natural resources."

Dr Stone said that the recent announcement by the Prime Minister of a joint Commonwealth/State $1.4b National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality would directly target five Western Australian catchments. 20 are being targeted nationally.

"The Avon, South Coast, Northern Agricultural, South West and Ord catchments will all receive focused attention and resources to tackle their salinity and water quality problems".

"This is a long-term, seven year program that builds on the achievements of the Federal Government's $1.5b Natural Heritage Trust".

"The success of the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality will depend on the Federal and Western Australian Governments working hand in hand with local communities, like those within the Wallatin Catchment, to develop long term solutions to address these environmental and natural resource issues."

Media Inquiries:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468
November 14th 2000

Commonwealth of Australia