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

6 July 2006

North Queensland research effort on track


Queensland Labor Senator Jan McLucas demonstrates a breathtaking lack of knowledge with her misleading comments about the Australian Government’s improvements to marine and tropical science research.

Senator McLucas’ assertion that the closure of the Rainforest and Reef Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) has not been replaced is nonsense.

The Australian Government has been implementing the replacement for the CRCs’ – the new Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF) – for the past year, working with researchers, industry and government, as well as an expert reference group. This group has determined key research priorities and implementation is well underway.

But the most extraordinary claim by Senator McLucas is that the CRCs “closed their doors” on 4 July, when it is widely known that the CRCs have had their terms extended to 30 September to ensure continuity of outstanding research projects and an orderly transition from CRC to MTSRF.

It seems Senator McLucas is the only person in North Queensland who is not aware of these arrangements.

In addition, the Australian Government had already spent $2.5 million under MTSRF as a ‘top up’ to final year operations of both the Rainforest and Reef CRCs to ensure there was no loss of research capacity from the region and no scientific ‘brain drain’ in the lead up to the implementation of MTSRF facilities.

MTSRF is a multi-disciplinary approach to pursuing big-picture environmental research to help protect North Queensland’s unique reefs and rainforests, such as the Great Barrier Reef and its catchments, tropical rainforests, including the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and the Torres Strait.

MTSRF funding represents an average annual increase of Australian Government spending on environmental research of about $3.5 million a year compared with previous research programmes in the region. I have approved this plan; successful research providers have been informed and have started work. I will announce further arrangements for the MTSRF in coming weeks.

For more information on this please see the Research Investment Strategy online at http://www.deh.gov.au/programs/cerf/publications/mtsrf-ris.html

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902.

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