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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

11 May 2004

Howard Government's record $2.4 billion for Australia's environment

The Howard Government's 2004-05 Budget has again delivered record funding for the restoration, protection and sustainable management of Australia's unique environment.

Total spending on the environment, across all portfolios, will rise to a record level of about $2.4 billion in 2004-05, about $400 million more than the estimated expenditure in 2003-04.

"The Howard Government's vision of a more sustainable Australia is demonstrated by this historic commitment to the preservation of our world renowned environment, and our natural, cultural and Indigenous heritage," the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said.

"A whole-of-government approach to sustainability is essential — that's why we've nominated a sustainable environment as one of our key strategic priorities, and made an environmentally sustainable Australia one of our four national research priorities.

"Smart investment in the environment means investment in the future health of the Australian continent."

Spending by the Environment and Agriculture portfolios — which jointly administer Australia's largest environmental rescue programs, the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality — on environmental activities since 1996 will reach a record $1.1 billion next financial year.

Environment funding by the portfolios of Environment and Heritage and
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 1995-96 to 2004-05

Environment funding by the portfolios of Environment and Heritage and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 1995-96 to 2004-05

Environment funding by the portfolios of Environment and Heritage and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 1995-96 to 2004-05

Further $300 million for Natural Heritage Trust

In this Budget the Australian Government is extending Australia's greatest environmental rescue effort with an extra $300 million to be spent in 2007-08. With this boost the total contribution the Trust will be making over its now 12 year life is $3 billion.

"This $300 million extension will provide greater certainty by extending the life of the Trust to the end of the forward estimates in 2007-08. There is now over $1.2 billion over the next 4 years available to support on the ground action under the Natural Heritage Trust," Dr Kemp said.

"Funding is also set to increase by $99.1million in 2004-05 in both the Natural Heritage Trust and National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality — up from $250 million to $310 million and $113.8 million to $152.7 million in 2003-04 respectively. Taken together, this is an increase from $363.8 million in 2003-04 to $462.7 million in 2004-05.

"This funding empowers regional communities to deliver local solutions to local problems — whether it be preventing and stabilising dryland salinity, improving water quality or conserving habitat for Australia's native plants and animals," Dr Kemp said.

"With the support of the Howard Government, community involvement in the environment has never been higher. More than 420,000 Australians, from all walks of life, have been involved in hands-on environmental repair projects funded under the Natural Heritage Trust since 1996."

Dr Kemp said that a key focus for the coming year was to build on new natural resource management regional plans that tackle serious issues threatening Australia's environment, and the rural industries and communities that depend on it.

"Regional plans are developed by communities who have the expertise to identify the key issues affecting their region, and form the basis for Government investment through the Natural Heritage Trust and National Action Plan," he said.

Biodiversity hotpots

The Biodiversity Hotspots initiative, announced in October last year, will be a high priority for conservation projects implemented under these regional plans.

Australia's biodiversity is essential to our economic prosperity, our cultural identity and our future as a sustainable continent. This Budget contains a new measure to protect Australia's Biodiversity Hotspots, areas rich in species diversity, some of which are facing immediate threat. Taking action in these areas, we will be able to save more species for every dollar we spend. Details of the new measure will be announced after the Budget. It will focus on protecting biodiversity values in areas currently under threat and will include the capacity to acquire and conserve high profile biodiversity rich properties.

"Australia is one of the most megadiverse countries on the planet, home to more than one million species of plants and animals, 80 per cent of which are found nowhere else in the world. This world-first, national Biodiversity Hotspots identification system — a Howard Government election commitment — will help land managers take action now so that our threatened species have a fighting chance."

$200 million for The Living Murray

Dr Kemp reconfirmed that the 2004-05 Budget includes funding for the Australian Government's $200 million contribution for the Living Murray Initiative  announced in the 2003-04 Additional Estimates.

"The Murray-Darling Basin covers one million square kilometres, which is equivalent to 14 per cent of the country's total area. The Basin also generates around one-third of the nation's agricultural output. This Government has long been committed to a national approach to improving the health of this iconic river system," Dr Kemp said.

"The Australian community is already taking steps to arrest the decline of the Murray-Darling Basin, with the assistance of over $600 million for Natural Heritage Trust and National Action Plan project funding since 1996.

"This funding of $200 million is part of a $500 million strategic approach agreed by COAG in August 2003 to improve water quality and increase environmental flows."

A further $30.3 million for the Great Barrier Reef

Dr Kemp said an additional $30.3 million would be spent over three years to increase the level of protection for the Great Barrier Reef, and to help implement the rezoning plan from 1 July 2004.

This means the Howard Government will invest a total of $176.4 million for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef over the next four years .

"We've allocated $8.8 million for enforcement and compliance activities within the boundaries of the 'No-Take' Zones and $4.4 million for community education activities. Funding in the order of $10.2 million has also been provisionally allocated for a Structural Adjustment Package for displaced fishers and communities following the new Zoning Plan.

"The Government will also provide in this Budget $6 million over three years for a Water Quality Monitoring Program and an additional $900,000 over three years for tourism operators in the continued fight against the invasive Crown of Thorns Starfish," he said.

Fisheries protection lifted to $89.3 million

Over the next two years the Australian Customs Service and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will spend $89.3 million to enhance Australia's patrol capability in the Southern Ocean.

"We have the world's greatest area of ocean territory, and the Howard Government takes this responsibility seriously: our environmental and economic future depends on it," Dr Kemp said.

"The Government is actively pursuing the protection of our marine environment by boosting surveillance operations to deter illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean.  

"Australia is an international leader in oceans planning and management, particularly since the Australian Government unveiled Australia's Oceans Policy in 1998."

Climate change funding up $70.3 million

"In this budget the Australian Government undertakes a significant strengthening of its actions to respond to climate change with a thorough revision of its greenhouse programmes," Dr Kemp said.

"An additional $70.3 million funding boost will build on our existing commitments. The Government will allocate $463.6 million over four years, including $260 million for eleven new measures that will limit Australia's greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining a strong and competitive economy.

"In 2004-05, $116.6 million will be invested through the Australian Greenhouse Office in action on climate change, up from $97.1 million in 2003-04 .

"$2.5 million will also be provided in 2004-05 to the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator for the continued administration of the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target.

"The 2004-05 Budget takes the Howard Government's total funding allocated for climate change measures to more than $1 billion." 

Other measures

Dr Kemp said that the 2004-05 Budget had also provided over $48 million over the next four years for a range of other environmental measures.

The Howard Government has extended the National Landcare Programme for two more years, by providing an additional $80 million ($40 million in both 2006-07 and 2007-08).

"This Budget commits $33.8 million over four years ($42.7 million over five years) to continue critical restoration work in the Great Artesian Basin, which is one of the largest artesian groundwater basins in the world.

"The Howard Government has also allocated $2.5 million over four years for a nationally consistent approach to the access and use of genetic resources and to undertake environmental risk studies, $3.7 million to implement a national system to manage introduced marine pests, and $6.2 million (for 2004-05) to strengthen protection against avian influenza viruses."

Dr Kemp said that a healthy environment was crucial to Australia's prosperity, and that our cultural and built heritage was a key factor in our national identity.

"This Government remains a world leader in environmental policy, and the Prime Minister's leadership on sustainability issues in 2004-05 is further proof of our dedication to building a better future for all Australians."

Commonwealth of Australia