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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
The Executive Summary of the report has been released in Canberra today. The report is the first ever comprehensive assessment of the Australian environment by an independent panel of more than 200 eminent scientists and experts.
Senator Hill says while the report highlights some of the success stories such as Landcare it also paints a stark picture of the problems facing our natural environment.
"The report identifies loss of biological diversity, degradation of inland waters, and soil erosion of agricultural land as being among the key concerns facing our environment.
"Many of the problems identified by the report are specifically targeted for action in the Coalition's $1 billion Natural Heritage Trust.
"Of even greater significance is the opinion of these independent experts as to how Australia should go about repairing the damage we have done to our natural environment.
"The report calls for a 'comprehensive and systematic approach' and not 'piecemeal efforts that treat symptoms rather than underlying causes'.
"The Natural Heritage Trust provides the opportunity for an integrated and systematic environmental rescue effort on a national scale. The 5 major capital programs funded under the Trust are complementary and are designed to achieve multiple outcomes.
"We understand the extent of the environmental problems facing this nation and we want to get on with the job of doing something about them. We believe that through the Natural Heritage Trust we can leave the environment in better shape for future generations.
"While the minor parties in the Senate continue to deny us the funding base for our Trust by blindly blocking the sale of one third of Telstra the problems will not only remain unsolved, they will worsen.
"The Labor Opposition should also take note of the findings of the report that it commissioned when in office.
"As the now Senate Leader of the Opposition, Senator Faulkner, said when he launched the framework for the report, it presents information 'in a way that nobody can duck or hide from'." (Hansard 28/6/94)
Senator Hill says Australians can only hope that the report's findings will open the eyes of Labor and the minor parties to the extent of the problems and the urgent need for action.
For further comment contact Matt Brown on 06 277 7640.