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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Minister for the Environment
Federal Budget 1997

Sharper Focus on Environment Spending


13 May 1997

The Australian community has been given its closest look ever at the full range of environment spending by the Commonwealth with the release of the 1997-98 Federal Budget.

For the first time, the Budget's Environment paper, "Investing in our Natural Heritage" , provides a transparent breakdown for the community of Commonwealth environmental activities across all portfolios.

Estimates drawn from the document indicate that all Commonwealth spending on the environment is likely to be in excess of $3 billion over the four years to 2000-01.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the paper delivers on a key promise made during last year's Budget process.

"Last year I committed the Commonwealth to providing the community with as much information as possible about spending on the environment.

"Through the Environment portfolio, the Commonwealth will spend $255 million in 1997-98. But other portfolios also allocate funds to projects and programs which result in a better environment for Australia.

"One such example is the Department of Employment Education Training and Youth Affairs, which will spend $41.4 million over three years on the Green Corps program.

"Green Corps provides skills and training for young people while the environment benefits from the projects they undertake.

"Previously this program's monetary contribution to a better environment was not acknowledged as such through the Budget papers.

"It's a similar story across a range of portfolios. The Defence Department makes a major contribution through the management of the environmental and heritage features of defence properties.

"The Department of Industry Science and Tourism is a major funder of environmental research while the Department of Health and Family Services undertakes a range of environmental health activities. And the list goes on."

Senator Hill says the Commonwealth will continue the practice in future budgets and seek to refine the process to deliver the greatest possible level of transparency for the community.

Media contact - Matt Brown 06 277 7640 or 0419 693 515.

Commonwealth of Australia