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

13 May 2003

New $16 million Programme adds to $124.8 million Commitment to Great Barrier Reef

A new $16 million programme to protect wetlands next to the Great Barrier Reef will add to the Government's $124.8 million commitment to the planet's largest World Heritage Area over the next four years, the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, announced today.

"The wetlands next to the reef play a critical role in filtering the water entering the reef lagoon, and act as a nursery for approximately 70 per cent of the reef's commercial and recreational fisheries," Dr Kemp said.

"Protecting and restoring the wetlands will in turn protect the outstanding marine life on which the tourism and fishing industries depend.

"The new coastal wetlands protection programme will be funded with some $16 million over five years, with the Commonwealth providing $8 million over the next five years. The Queensland Government has been invited to match this investment.

"It will complement the work the Government is doing to protect and restore nationally and internationally important wetlands in Australia through a range of mechanisms, including the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and Natural Heritage Trust funding.

"Water quality is just one critical issue the Government is addressing with $124.8 million over four years for the iconic Great Barrier Reef Marine Park - others are coastal development, fisheries, tourism, conservation and biodiversity protection," Dr Kemp said.

"We've made some significant gains in addressing these challenges - it's fair to say that this government has done more than any government to date to protect this world treasure."

This Budget supports the Government's principal commitments to the Great Barrier Reef, including improving water quality and habitat protection through:

Media Contact:
Catherine Job Dr Kemp's office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia