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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon. Dr David Kemp
30 October 2003
The Howard Government today entered into three-year Eco-Efficiency Agreements with the fertiliser industry and Queensland canegrowers to achieve positive environmental outcomes, which will ultimately help to protect the Great Barrier Reef - one of Australia's famous natural icons.
The agreements - signed today by the Government with the Fertilizer Industry Federation of Australia (FIFA) and the Queensland Canegrowers Organisation at Mulgrave Mill near Cairns - aim to improve environmental and economic sustainability both on-farm and in the fertilizer industry.
"These two agreements are a result of a memorandum of understanding between the Howard Government and the Queensland Government that aims to reduce impacts to water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon from land-based pollutants such as fertilizers," Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said at the signing.
"These agreements also signify the Howard Government's commitment to engaging peak industry bodies and farmers in business sustainability by using less resources and produce less waste. They mark a significant step forward in improving environmental performance in the agriculture sector."
Under the Canegrowers' agreement, the organisation will ensure a further 30% of members will receive COMPASS (COMbining Profitability and Sustainability in Sugar) training - a program implementing a code of practice and self-assessment policy, guaranteeing further protection of the Great Barrier Reef from land-sourced pollutants.
Under the FIFA agreement, the industry will also take action to address and reduce land-sourced pollutants through a product stewardship program. This program will require all members to promote more efficient use of fertilizers through their outlets Australia-wide. The first part of this program will focus on fertilizer use in the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon catchments.
"As FIFA members manufacture and supply more than 95 per cent of the fertilizers used in Australia, this agreement will lead to positive environmental outcomes for the whole agriculture sector," Dr Kemp said.
Under the agreements, the Howard Government will provide $190,000 to FIFA and $190,000 to the Queensland Canegrowers, funded from the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust, to support implementation of the agreements.
"Both FIFA members and canegrowers will benefit economically from improved efficiency while delivering environmental outcomes for the wider community. This is achieved because the agreements are a vehicle for promoting opportunities for businesses to operate smarter," Dr Kemp said.
"For example, if a cane farmer can reduce water use, fertilizer and chemical use for the same tonnage, they will immediately be more cost effective and reduce their environmental impacts. The same goes for a fertilizer factory or any other business."
The Howard Government established Eco-efficiency Agreements in 2000 as a vehicle for promoting eco-efficiency among industry. The agreements are implemented as business strategies for both ecological and economic sustainability.
"This initiative is gaining strong support from industry and I am pleased to add another two organisations to our valued participants," Dr Kemp said.
"Today's signing brings the total number of Eco-efficiency Agreements to 34 nationally of which three are in Queensland."
The FIFA and Canegrowers' agreements complement other programs already addressing water quality on the Great Barrier Reef. In January this year, Dr Kemp announced $150,000 for the Douglas Shire to address sediment and nutrient loads deposited into the reef from the Daintree and Mosman River catchments. This work is funded under the Coastal Catchments Initiative, a program of the Natural Heritage Trust.
In May this year, Dr Kemp, along with Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, launched the Draft Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Protection Plan. Under the plan, landholders and community members will work with industry and government to review their practices and adopt innovative approaches that will lead to better water quality in the Reef lagoon.
The Howard Government in June also announced a major initiative to ensure the protection of the Great Barrier Reef - the Representative Areas Program - that proposes a six-fold increase of protected zones and marine sanctuaries within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
"Ensuring long-term protection of the Great Barrier Reef is critical for the survival of not only marine life, but also the industries dependent on the Reef. Today's agreements with the fertilizer and canegrowers' industry is an important step to achieving this and I commend both industries for making this very important commitment."