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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Press Conference, Adelaide
Monday, 20 October 2003
The announcement today concerned the further funding for volunteer community activity and what I've announced today is that the Australian Government will be funding 35 new facilitator positions to support Coastcare, Waterwatch and Bushcare. This will cost some $2.5 million over the next financial year. The aim of this grant is to ensure that local community activity continues to be strong in supporting the new regional arrangements to manage our natural resources more efficiently.
This is an announcement that I think will be widely welcomed by many community groups. There are a lot of people around the community who have built up a great deal of experience in caring for our coastal areas, caring for our rivers through Waterwatch and our bushlands through Bushcare. This announcement today will ensure that they have the organisational support that they need to continue those activities strongly over the next year.
Dr Kemp, Australians are using 63 buckets of water a day; are they going to get used to using a lot less than that? I mean, is that something culturally we're going to have to change and get used to?
Well, clearly, the usage of water that we've had in urban areas can't continue at the same rate and every state capital has now got water restrictions of one kind or another.
There is much that home-owners can do to economise on the use of water. If you fix that dripping tap; if you don't use the hose to hose down the path and clear the leaves away but make sure the water actually goes on the garden where it's intended to go; if you use a bucket to wash the car. If you have a short shower, if you use a water-efficient showerhead, you can not only save water but you can also save energy because you save the electricity that you use to heat up some of that water for internal bathing and washing.
There are a number of national initiatives that are being rolled out to support the efficient use of water. And perhaps I should mention today that the Commonwealth and State Governments have agreed that there will now be mandatory water efficiency standards that will be put in place from 2005. They will apply to toilets; they'll apply to washing machines and to dishwashers and taps.
They will ensure that when people go to buy a new appliance, they will be able to know, in future, just what the water efficiency rating of that appliance is. They'll have an opportunity to choose the most water-efficient appliance and in that way they can make their own personal contribution to saving one of our scarcest resources.
I was just going to add, too, in terms of the Murray, South Australians are looking forward to environmental flows. We've had figures of 500 to 1500 gigalitres. Do you have any idea, yet, as to what that figure might be?
Well, science tells us that in order to get a satisfactory return to health in the Murray River, we're going to need something like 1500 gigalitres over time.
But the current issue is not a flow issue as such; it's one that involves both water and proper management of that water. And I'm very hopeful that we will see, as a first-step decision in November at the Ministerial Council, a strong decision from the Ministers that will put forward the water that will be necessary to achieve real environmental outcomes.
The Murray Mouth clearly needs more water. The Chowilla floodplain clearly needs more water. In other states the Barmah-Millewa Forest, the Murray Channel itself, need properly managed water.
And in going to the community after the November meeting, we want the community to be able to have before it good information about the environmental outcomes that we hope to achieve, how much water will be needed to actually bring about those environmental outcomes, and to give the community the opportunity to consult with us on where that water will come from and what the cost of that water might be.
Thanks very much.