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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon. Warren Truss
&
The Chief Minister for the Northern Territory
The Hon. Clare Martin

Northern Territory Minister for Lands and Planning
The Hon. Kon Vatskalis

9 April 2003

Historic Agreement to Tackle Salinity and Water Quality in the Northern Territory


Major on-ground work addressing salinity and water quality issues has begun in the Northern Territory as part of a $12 million bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Government. The agreement is part of the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAPSWQ) program - the largest Federal-State Government funded environmental package to tackle salinity and water in Australia's history.

The $12 million NAPSWQ bilateral agreement was signed recently by Prime Minister, John Howard and the Chief Minister for the Northern Territory, Clare Martin.

"Under the bilateral agreement, the Northern Territory and Federal Coalition Government will work with community-based advisory committees to develop regional natural resource management plans and investment strategies that address high priority salinity and water quality problems," Dr Kemp said.

"These government-appointed committees are then responsible for implementing the regional management plans and investment strategies."

Dr Kemp said the bilateral agreement covers priority regions - the Darwin-Katherine region encompassing the Daly and Mary River catchments, and the Northern Territory portion of the Ord River region, which includes parts of the Ord and Keep River catchments.

The Darwin-Katherine region covers 7.8 million hectares, which includes the major population centre of Darwin. The Ord River region covers 6.7 million hectares of cross-border catchment in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

In the Darwin-Katherine region, the Mary River Catchment Advisory Committee has already been appointed. Advisory committees for the Daly River Catchment and the Ord River region will be finalised soon between the Federal, Northern Territory and Western Australian Governments.

Chief Minister Martin said the regional management plans must be accredited by the Territory and Federal Government to receive funding for projects proposed in the investment strategies.

"The projects under the accredited plans will receive joint Federal/Territory Government funding of $12 million over 5 years as part of the bilateral agreement," she said.

She said the emphasis of the regional management plans is on developing projects that have local solutions for local problems.

Minister Vatskalis said projects under the plan will give priority to preventative or remedial on-ground activities such as tree planting or fencing, or large-scale engineering works.

"Training programs, access to technical expertise, and research and development activities may also be included in the regional plans," he said.

Minister Truss said funding under the NAPSWQ package is allocated to the highest priority projects identified in regional natural resource management plans.

"It's important the social, economic and environmental factors are the triple bottom line that plans are measured against," he said.

"Accreditation ensures regional plans are of a sound scientific standard so that they address all of the natural resource issues that each region faces.

"It's also vital regional communities in the Northern Territory have ownership of the plans developed for their area. Their active involvement is the cornerstone of the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality program."

More information about the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality is available at www.napswq.gov.au.

Media Contacts:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Annette Healy (Mr Truss's office) 02 6277 7520 or 0408 627 227
Craig Rowston (Ms Martin's office) 08 8901 4000
Nicola Lekias (Mr Vatskalis' office) 08 8901 4132

Commonwealth of Australia