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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
2 August 2002
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today spoke out against shabby political moves by opposition spokesman for the Environment, Kelvin Thomson, that funding decisions of the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) are politically motivated.
"This is one of Kelvin's long list of incompetencies and mistakes since coming into the portfolio," said Dr Kemp.
"If he had done his homework, he would have known that in 1998 the Labor party already tried this trick on the Australian public and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) completed an exhaustive report into NHT funding and found that there was no bias in NHT decision making."
Dr Kemp was quoting from a 1998 report Preliminary inquiries into the Natural Heritage Trust, which found that "the NHT decision making process is fundamentally sound in providing transparency and rigour and there was no evidence of systematic bias in the allocation of funds to projects."
Funding towards Labor electorates has actually increased since the ANAO report from 10 per cent of total NHT funds to around 20 per cent today, which is what Labor is claiming.
"For Kelvin to try this political bias line again against this hard data you have to wonder how far will he go in misleading people to score cheap political points as evidenced in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald Article, 'Labor cries foul as trust funds flow to Coalition seats'.
"Indeed, these misleading claims hold the public in contempt and also demean the national significance of the Natural Heritage Trust," Dr Kemp said.
"Australia's most serious biodiversity and natural resource management problems are in rural or regional areas, and simply because they have government members representing them is hardly grounds to claim funds are distributed unfairly.
"Coalition seats have received about 82 per cent of the funding, but that's because coalition seats make up 80 per cent of non-metropolitan regions where serious environmental challenges are posing a threat to the Australian environment.
A copy of the Auditor General's report can be found at:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400