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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer
Senator Helen Coonan

13 October 2003

Tax Change Provides Greater Conservation Incentives

Greater tax incentives are available to landowners who sign voluntary conservation agreements with governments to manage and conserve their land under a recent amendment to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan, today announced the Government's proposed amendment to taxation law to provide a concession to landowners entering conservation covenants with State, Territory and local government agencies has been approved by the Parliament.

"The passage of this legislation will provide a welcome tax incentive to landowners who have taken the initiative to help conserve Australia's environment," Dr Kemp said.

"More and more landowners are recognising the value of managing their land for conservation purposes and the Howard Government is helping them achieve this with greater incentives.

"This tax incentive will encourage more people to enter into formal covenants that protect important environmental sites. Many covenants also include commitments to on-ground action such as fencing off rare plants, seed collecting and tree planting."

A conservation covenant is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and an authorised body such as a State or Territory Government or local government authority. It identifies actions to manage and conserve native vegetation. Previously, landowners were unable to benefit from an income tax deduction for conservation covenants with state or local government agencies.

Senator Coonan said the passage of this legislation adds to the already generous incentives for philanthropy and fulfills the Howard Government's election commitment to explore new tax incentives for conservation covenants.

"With some 70 per cent of the nation's land occupied by rural landholders, it is important to reward those who are contributing to the conservation of our unique native flora and fauna," Senator Coonan said.

"This legislation allows landowners to claim an income tax deduction for any decrease in land value that results from signing a conservation agreement, provided the landowner receives no payment for entering into it.

"Capital gains tax provisions continue to apply as if it was a sale or gift of land."

Conservation covenants are becoming increasingly popular with more than 2,000 covenants covering nearly 1 million hectares of land already concluded or at a negotiation stage.

Commonwealth of Australia