The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Victorian Minister for Environment and Water
Victorian Minister for Agriculture
11 June 2004
A community effort to reduce the flow of nutrients into two important rivers in Victoria's north-east region - the Ovens and Kiewa Rivers - will help improve the overall water quality of the Murray River.
This proposal is part of Victoria's North-East Regional Catchment Strategy which outlines a plan for improving the region's environment and promoting long-term sustainability of agricultural land.
The Regional Catchment Strategy was announced today by Australian Government Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, and Victorian Ministers for the Environment, John Thwaites, and Agriculture, Bob Cameron.
"The strategy includes a comprehensive overview of the region's environmental, social and economic assets including heritage rivers, industries such as livestock production, forestry and horticulture, and local towns", Dr Kemp said.
"It outlines actions to address threats to these assets such as projects to continue the fight against salinity, protect water quality and biodiversity, and ensure agricultural industries remain sustainable."
Mr Truss said the North-East region plays a vital role in supplying water for human consumption, agricultural production and the environment in south-east Australia, contributing 38% of the water in the Murray Darling Basin.
"As this catchment's water eventually makes its way to the Murray River, the work done under this strategy will benefit not only residents and the environment of the North-East Region but those downstream. Water from this region is utilised by communities as far away as Adelaide," Mr Truss said.
"The Regional Catchment Strategy includes specific targets for reducing nutrients to improve water quality in the Ovens and Kiewa Rivers which flow directly into the Murray."
Mr Thwaites said the region's environmental importance could not be understated, containing the Lower Ovens and Upper Mitta Mitta Heritage Rivers, the State's highest mountains, 227 rare or threatened plants and at least 102 rare or threatened fauna species, including the Long-footed Potoroo, Regent Honeyeater and Trout Cod.
Mr Cameron congratulated the North East Catchment Management Authority on the innovative methods used to engage the regional community in the development of the strategy.
"The use of hypothetical newspapers with headlines dated 50 years into the future, that highlighted resource use disasters that could occur if the strategy had not been implemented, sparked community interest by making clear this was an opportunity to influence the future," Mr Cameron said.
The Ministers will now consider the North East's forthcoming Regional Catchment Investment Plan, which outlines how Commonwealth and State funding will be spent to implement the regional strategy. Commonwealth funds, sourced from the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust, will be matched by the Victorian Government.
The complete North East Regional Catchment Strategy is available at www.necma.vic.gov.au.