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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Mr Warren Truss

24 August 2004

$1.5 million flows to Australia's tropical rivers and water quality in the top end

The Northern Territory is the big winner from Australian Government funding to help repair and conserve northern rivers, manage the agricultural industry and look after our native plants and animals.

$1.5 million in federal funds will be used for a tropical rivers protection initiative and projects to address salinity and water quality, funded through the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and the Natural Heritage Trust — Australia's largest environmental rescue package.

While visiting Darwin today, Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell confirmed that $1 million from the Trust over the next two years would be focussed entirely on improving our knowledge, and understanding the values and functions of our tropical rivers.

"This will then help improve our capacity to manage and develop tropical river systems," Senator Campbell said.

"Research from this initiative should directly lead to positive management decision for rivers like the Daly and Douglas here in the Northern Territory, and help us protect our natural heritage.

"Managing demands for water, a precious resource, from development in tropical Australia, while maintaining flows in our northern rivers, is a critical challenge.

"The rivers, estuaries and the associated floodplain and wetland systems of northern Australia are key environmental resources that provide a range of benefits to the Australian community, particularly in terms of native plants and animals, tourism, and fisheries values."

Member for Solomon, Dave Tollner, said half a million dollars would fund innovative projects in high priority regions including the Daly and Mary River Catchments.

"Saline intrusion and deteriorating water quality have the potential to seriously affect the Northern Territory's agricultural production and the natural environment," he said.

Senator for the Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, has welcomed the important Commonwealth contribution.

"These priority funds will be directed to salt intrusion control and preventative works in the Mary River.

"This will help protect the Catchment's significant biodiversity values, recreational fishing and tourism values as well as sustain pastoral grazing on the floodplain.

"Salt intrusion works in the Mary River catchment will be used to construct submerged weirs on the Tommycut Creek using mud-filled textile bags to limit salinisation."

The Northern Territory Government will also contribute $500,000 in NAP funds. A call for project proposals has been made by the Landcare Council of the Northern Territory.

"I encourage people to embrace this opportunity and identify innovative integrated proposals for consideration," Senator Campbell said.

The $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality is Australia's first comprehensive national strategy to tackle salinity and deteriorating water quality. Together with the $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust, these two programs form the largest environmental rescue in Australia's history.

For information about the Tropical Rivers Protection Initiative:

For information about salt intrusion works in the Mary River contact: Rod Applegate (08) 8999 4568

For information about the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality:

Commonwealth of Australia