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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Federal Member for Barker
Patrick Secker MP

31 July 2003

Major Investment for Environment Work in Barker


The Howard Government has committed over $150 million for environmental work in South Australia over the next five years - including rehabilitation of the Murray River - through the Natural Heritage Trust and National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.

Visiting the Barker electorate today to inspect federally-funded environmental projects, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, announced the state's south-east region will be a major beneficiary of this funding under the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) and the National Action Plan (NAP) bilateral agreements with the South Australian Government.

"Under these agreements, communities are developing integrated natural resource management plans and investment strategies which will enable the Commonwealth and State to make substantial investments in on-ground environmental works," Dr Kemp said.

Under the NHT bilateral agreement, close to $3 million will be invested over the next 12 months in the Kangaroo Island ($429,900), South-East ($1,102,000) and Murray Darling Basin ($1,431,000) regions, which are part of the Barker electorate, for priority projects focused on improving natural resource management.

"This includes $135,000 for the Murray Darling Basin region to help the irrigation industry adopt reforms in the Lower Murray region. These reforms will play a significant part in improving the industry's long-term sustainability and reduce impacts current practices are having on the River Murray," Federal Member for Barker, Patrick Secker, said.

"$150,000 will also help fund a Wetlands Waterlink project in the South-East priority region which aims to restore and manage wetlands in the lower south-east."

Under the NAP agreement, the Barker electorate will receive substantial funding for environmental works targeting salinity and water quality. This is part of the Howard Government's $93 million NAP funding commitment for South Australia over the next five years with $14 million allocated to the Murray River so far.

"This includes up to $22 million in both Federal and State government funding ($11 million each) for the Lower Murray Irrigation Area based in the Barker electorate, towards a $35 million plan to increase water use efficiency and drainage in the area," Dr Kemp said.

"The aim of this project, which is significant to the region, is to rehabilitate wetland and farmed areas within 10 years, improve on-farm water use efficiency to 65% and reduce drainage discharge to the river by 40%."

Mr Secker said future NHT and NAP spending will complement major environmental work already underway in the Barker electorate funded by $37.9 million in federal funding over the past five years.

"This includes $16.7 million for 247 projects during the first phase of the Natural Heritage Trust (1997 to 2002), $5.6 million for 34 projects in the second phase (from 2002), and more than $11 million from the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality," Mr Secker said.

Funding in the Barker electorate includes:

Over the past five years, the Howard Government has also contributed $1.3 million from the Trust towards the Coorong District Local Action Plan which is targeting some 883,500 hectares in the Upper South-East and Lower Murray lands affected by dryland salinity, remnant native vegetation and wetlands degradation, erosion and unsustainable agricultural practices.

"Among strategies to combat these problems are the broad scale planting of deep rooted perennial plants to control groundwater recharge rates, protecting native vegetation and wetlands and extensive revegetation using local species," Mr Secker said.

Dr Kemp commended the Coorong District Council in becoming a strong advocate of natural resource management issues and setting an excellent example for other communities in the Barker electorate.

"Over the past five years, the Coorong District council has been involved in more than $5.9 million of joint Federal and State Government investment in sustainable primary production and environmental action," Dr Kemp said.

Commonwealth of Australia