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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon. Warren Truss MP

25 February 2005

Over $2.6 million for Eyre Peninsula bushfire recovery


Landholders in the fire-affected Lower Eyre Peninsula will receive some help with the job of property and environmental recovery, thanks to a funding package from the Australian government, Australian Government Ministers for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, and Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell announced today.

"The Coalition Government responded quickly to support the community of the Lower Eyre Peninsula with immediate assistance measures," Mr Truss said.

"The package announced today is to aid the longer-term re-establishment of farming enterprises while also supporting and protecting the environment. This package was initiated as a result of representations made by the Member for Grey, Barry Wakelin."

The funds will be drawn from the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust and National Landcare Program. The Australian Government's $2.68 million commitment is contingent on the South Australian Government matching that amount.

The two-year funding package takes a long-term approach to recovery activities to protect and manage the natural resources of the fire-affected area.

"Together with an estimated $2.74 million of in-kind support from the local community the total package value exceeds $8 million once South Australia signs off on its commitment," Mr Truss said

"The January bushfire destroyed almost 83,000 hectares of farmland in a short time, but rebuilding farming enterprises and restoring the landscape could take years.

"The Howard/Anderson Government was hoping to make today's announcement as a joint initiative of the State and Federal governments but South Australia is still finalising its commitment."

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government support announced today will help landholders plan for the challenge ahead.

"It will ensure that landholders will receive individual attention to address the property and natural resource issues that they have been confronted with following the fire," Senator Campbell said.

"The Australian Government funding will support grants of up to $4,000 for landholders to develop a property management plan. These plans will allow landholders to address the most effective approach to sustainable agriculture, improving productivity and protecting environmental values like water quality, soil condition and biodiversity.

"Landholders can apply for additional grants of up to $10,000 to implement the plans through on-ground activities such as revegetation, fencing, salinity and erosion control. Landholders who already have property management plans will be able to access the grants quickly."

Senator Campbell said the region was known for its rich biodiversity values, and that recovery activities should consider habitat and threatened species issues.

"Biodiversity conservation will be a key element of property management plans. This will give people the confidence to rebuild farms without being concerned about having an impact on species already under pressure as a result of the fire," Senator Campbell said.

Ministers Truss and Campbell said the next couple of years will be crucial to the long-term recovery of the Lower Eyre Peninsula, so both Governments should work together with the region's communities to restore this unique landscape.

For more information about grants for property management plans and on-ground works contact the Landcare and Sustainable Industries section of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on 02 6272 5196.

Lower Eyre Peninsula landholders can also get information and assistance through the Australian Government's Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) and Farm Help Programs. RFCS is available to the region through the Eastern Eyre Rural Counselling Service at Tumby Bay on 08 8688 2922.

The Farm Help Programme is administered by Centrelink on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. In the first instance individuals should contact Centrelink on 1800 050 585 to discuss their eligibility or visit the Centrelink web site at: http://www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/services/farm_help.htm.

Media contacts:
Renae Stoikos (Senator Campbell's Office) 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434
Kylie Butler (Travelling with Minister Truss) 02 6277 7520 or 0417 652 488

Commonwealth of Australia