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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Minister for Mines
11 April 2003
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Mr Warren Truss, and Queensland Natural Resources Minister, Stephen Robertson, today announced proposals for an 'interim financial agreement' with Queensland for the delivery of regional funding under the Natural Heritage Trust.
The agreement provides around $16 million in interim regional funding spread over two financial years 2002/03 and 2003/04. Based on the Natural Heritage Trust extension framework agreed by the Natural Resources Management Ministerial Council, it recognises the progress being made with the Natural Heritage Trust bi-lateral agreement.
Announcing the funding, Mr Truss said the Commonwealth was pleased with the progress made toward finalising the Bilateral Agreement for the Natural Heritage Trust extension in Queensland. "We are confident the current productive and positive working relationship with Queensland will lead to a Bilateral being resolved shortly," he said.
"We are, however, concerned at the potential for any further delays in the delivery of interim funds to impact on the momentum of natural resource management implementation in Queensland. Of particular concern are the needs of the developing regional bodies to access interim funding and funding for facilitators and coordinators."
Dr Kemp said this offer would allow the interim regional process to start with an initial focus on the extension of the facilitators and coordinators, foundation funding proposals and capacity building projects.
"We have also agreed to the release of 2002-03 Commonwealth funds for activities under the National Component of the Trust for Queensland," Dr Kemp said.
"This will allow $2.2 million in funding for world heritage support in the Wet Tropics along with significant funding for endangered species recovery planning and major water quality projects. These include restoring the water quality of Moreton Bay, developing Recovery Plans for endangered species and ecological communities and expanding the National Reserve System through high priority acquisitions in Queensland.
"We have asked officials to work with Queensland so that funds can start flowing to regional groups as soon as possible, particularly in regions that have received no funding under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality."
Queensland Natural Resources Minister, Stephen Robertson, welcomed the Commonwealth's commitment to fund key community group facilitator and co-ordinator positions in the lead up to Stage Two of the Natural Heritage Trust.
"There was a danger that facilitators and coordinators working for key community groups like Landcare, Coastcare, Waterwatch and Bushcare may have been forced out of work because of a lack of funding during the transition period between the end of NHT1 and the start of NHT2," he said.
"The States alerted the Commonwealth to this problem and I am pleased Federal Ministers, Warren Truss and David Kemp, have acted to ensure group facilitators and coordinators are able to continue their important work in the interim.
"The funding commitment provides the necessary security for facilitators and coordinators and ensures their skills are not lost to community groups involved in local natural resource management projects."
Catherine Job Dr Kemp's office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Annette Healy Minister Truss's Office (02) 6277 7520 or 0408 627 227
Paul Lynch Minister Robertson's Office (07) 3896 3689 or 0417 728 676