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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

13 May 2003

Government Sets New $2 Billion Benchmark For Environment Spending

Total Commonwealth spending on the environment in 2003-04, across all portfolios, will top $2 billion for the first time in 2003-04.

"This level of expenditure demonstrates the Howard Government's commitment to restoring, protecting and sustainably managing the Australian environment and Australia's heritage," said the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp.

The Commonwealth Government is providing an additional $353.1 million to fund new environment measures across the Commonwealth over the next four years, including new funding of $267 million within the environment portfolio, with an additional $49.3 million in related meteorological expenditure.

Spending by Environment and Agriculture portfolios - which jointly administer the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality - on environmental activities has more than doubled since 1996 to a record $957.6 million next financial year, an increase of $578.6 million since 1995-96.

Environment funding 95-96 to 04-05

Environment funding by the portfolios of Environment and Heritage and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 1995-96 to 2004-05

"The Howard Government puts the environment at the very heart of Commonwealth Government policy - a commitment exemplified by the Prime Minister's leadership in building a genuine whole-of-government framework for environmental sustainability issues."

The Prime Minister leads the Sustainable Environment Committee of Cabinet, and the Ministerial Oversight Committee on Energy, which oversees the development of Australia's long-term energy policy. This Budget also provides $18.2 million for the National Oceans Ministerial Board, which has been established to oversee the implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy, the Marine Science and Technology Plan and the development of Regional Marine Plans.

"A healthy environment is crucial to our prosperity as a nation, while our natural, built and cultural heritage is a key part of our national identity," Dr Kemp said.

"I am proud to announce a number of exciting new programmes in today's Budget, including a system to manage and celebrate our heritage, called Distinctively Australian; and Sustainable Cities - a plan developed in collaboration with the Australian Democrats with the support of Senator Lees to improve the environment for the more than 17 million Australians who live in our towns and cities.

"The 2003-04 Budget also delivers on key election promises, including the implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy and tackling salinity and water quality.

"Nearly $364 million is being invested in the next financial year in natural resource management through the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust and the $1.4 billion National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality.

"This funding will address pressing natural resource management issues and enable regional communities to work together on targeted strategies to prevent and stabilise trends in dryland salinity, to improve water quality and to protect Australia's unique plants and animals.

"A key focus in the coming year is to progress new regional plans that will tackle serious issues threatening Australia's environment and the rural industries and communities that depend on it.

"The Budget also renews the Commonwealth Government's commitment to combating greenhouse gases, with funding of almost $1 billion since 1997, while developing a long-term climate change strategy that moves Australia beyond the Kyoto period (2008-2012) to address challenges in the decades ahead.

"Commitment to the environment across the Commonwealth Government is illustrated by the Department of Defence, which is Australia's biggest landholder. With $30.3 million in this year's Budget, it will develop its extensive programme of environmental activities and set an example in sustainable management and development."

This Budget includes major initiatives for the environment portfolio such as:

"The Budget also provides for an Oceans Board of Management, and a high level scientific group, the Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group, to provide advice to the National Oceans Ministerial Board and underpin an acceleration of regional marine planning." Dr Kemp said.

Dr Kemp welcomed $86.2 million in new funding over four years for environmental initiatives in other portfolios, including:

"These are just some of the important steps taken in this year's Budget to ensuring our precious environment is protected for future generations," Dr Kemp said.

Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

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