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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp
13 November 2003
The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced the results of the review into funding to support voluntary environment and cultural heritage organisations.
"Following the dramatic increase in funding available to voluntary environment and cultural heritage organisations as a result of Government initiatives, such as the Envirofund and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, and the growth in the number of organisations eligible for Tax Deductible Gift Recipient Status through the Howard Government's Register of Environmental Organisations, I instituted a review of the Grants to Voluntary Environment and Heritage Organisations Program in 2002," Dr Kemp said.
"There were two key results from the review. Firstly, that the amount of government funding to support voluntary environment organisations - both directly through the huge growth in grants programs under the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan and indirectly through the growth in both the number of organisations eligible for tax deductibility status and the amount of tax deductible gifts to registered environmental organisations - have expanded dramatically in recent years.
"For example, the Natural Heritage Trust's Australian Government Envirofund annually provides $20 million for practical on-ground projects. And in the 2001-02 year tax, deductible donations to organisations listed on the Register of Environmental Organisations was over $51 million, an increase from $4 million over the term of the Howard Government.
"Secondly, the Grants to Voluntary Environment and Heritage Organisations Program has proved increasingly expensive to administer and was no longer focused on supporting organisations with a national environmental focus that delivered on-the-ground environmental programs.
"Accordingly, I have revised the criteria to focus funding on national organisations working on practical environmental activities or participating in natural resource management planning under the Natural Heritage Trust or the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, or focused on impacts on marine protected areas. These organisations include state-wide conservation councils, regional environment centres, some national environmental groups and cultural heritage bodies.
"In recognition of the relatively more limited opportunities available to cultural heritage organisations to obtain funding either directly through grants programs or indirectly through tax deductible gift recipient status, I have quarantined the amount of funding to cultural heritage organisations. I will be discussing further with the National Cultural Heritage Forum ways of increasing sources of funding to support cultural heritage activities in Australia.
"Eighty-seven percent of the organisations receiving funding last year are listed on the Register of Environmental Organisations which gives them tax deductibility status.
"I have undertaken wide consultation with environment and heritage organisations, both through the National Environment Consultative Forum - the peak group of non-government organisations - and through formal correspondence with many of the past recipients of the grants about the future of the Grants to Voluntary Environment and Heritage Organisations program.
"I believe that the focus of the Government's funding to non-government organisations should be closely tied to the achievement of solid outcomes for the environment and heritage."
Revised Eligibility Criteria and a list of this year's recipients of the grants are available on the Department's web site at http://www.deh.gov.au/programs/gveho/index.html.