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Senator The Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

FEDERAL BUDGET 2001-2002
EMBARGO: 8.00PM 22 MAY 2001


MEDIA RELEASE

COALITION BOOSTS ENVIRONMENT BUDGET BY $95.6 MILLION


For the second year running the Howard Government has provided more than $1 billion to the environment.

This year the Government has allocated over $1.62 billion, which is $95.6 million more than last year.

Federal Environment and Heritage Minister Senator Robert Hill said the Government continues to deliver record levels of funding to protect and restore Australia's environment.

"From day one the Howard Government has demonstrated to the Australian community that it is serious about the environment and has provided funding to support this commitment.

"The Howard Government will provide $1 billion over five years to extend the Natural Heritage Trust, commencing in 2002-03. This funding, along with the initial $1.5 billion Trust funding and $700 million National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, is the largest environmental funding commitment in Australia's history.

"The environmental priorities defined in the Budget will further improve the management and protection of our natural resources and wildlife, reduce the impacts of pollutants on the environment as well as ensure the continued protection of the Great Barrier Reef," Senator Hill said.

The 2001-02 Budget has provided funding for a raft of environmental initiatives. These include:

. $1 billion over five years to extend the Natural Heritage Trust, commencing in 2002-03
The Natural Heritage Trust Stage 2 will build on the successes of the original Trust in helping communities protect and repair their local environments. The $1 billion funding is additional to the $700 million National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and the funds generated by the interest on the $300 million remaining in the Natural Heritage Trust Reserve.

. $275 million in 2001-02 for Natural Heritage Trust projects
The Budget has allocated $83.8 million to Bushcare, $69.7 million to the National Landcare program, $35 million for the Murray-Darling 2001 program and $24.4 million for Coasts and Clean Seas.

. $18.1 million over four years to reduce environmental pollutants
The Government has allocated $8 million over four years to improve fuel quality in Australia and cut vehicle emissions; $5.1 million over four years to extend the National Pollutant Inventory, and $5 million over four years to tackle dioxins and dioxin-like substances in the environment.

. $25.8 million in 2001-02 to ensure the continued health of the Great Barrier Reef
The Government has allocated $6.4 million over 4 years for the refurbishment and modernisation of the Townsville Aquarium (Reef HQ) to provide a world-class experience for visitors showcasing the special values of the Reef; $1.7 million over 4 years to enhance the management of aquaculture adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and $1.7 million over 4 years for GBRMPA to meet its growing management responsibilities.

. $217.9 million to meet the challenge of climate change
The Government has provided $21.7 million over four years for greenhouse international policy and reporting and greenhouse sinks initiatives to enable the Australian Greenhouse Office to continue to advance Australia's involvement in the development of the international climate change agenda. The Budget has also provided $24.2 million over four years for the development of domestic greenhouse policy.

. $212.5 million in 2001-02 to maintain world class weather forecasting
The funding will be used to improve the Bureau of Meteorology's operations and services, particularly its services to rural and regional Australia.

. $100.7 million in 2001-02 to continue Australia's Antarctic program
To continue protection of the Antarctic environment, the Government has provided funding for ice, air and marine studies and environmental management projects.

. $10 million in 2001-02 to boost efforts to conserve rural and regional heritage
The Government has provided $5 million for the restoration and preservation of historic hotels in rural and regional Australia; $5 million to the Goodiwindi Town Council for the construction of a waterpark at Serpentine Lagoon at Goodiwindi in Queensland. Funding has also been provided to allow continued support to local government, community groups and private owners to protect heritage places beyond 2001-02.

"The Howard Government has also honoured its commitment of $700 million over seven years to tackle salinity and water quality issues. This funding will be matched by the States, resulting in a total funding package of $1.4 billion," Senator Hill said.

"In 2001-02, spending on the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality will be $65 million for the development of integrated catchment/regional management plans.

"This initial funding will lay the foundations for the maintenance and improvement of natural resources within priority catchments, particularly in relation to salinity, water quality and biodiversity."

Senator Hill said all the new budget measures will make a major contribution towards ensuring Australia's environmental future.

Contact:
Belinda Huppatz (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364

As of 8pm, the Environment Budget Statement Portfolio Budget Statement and budget media releases will be found on the Internet at: www.ea.gov.au/about/budget/2001/

Commonwealth of Australia