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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
29 July 1997
The first of eight partnership agreements to demonstrate the joint commitment to the Natural Heritage Trust between the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments has been signed in Perth.
The acting Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, and the Premier of Western Australia, Richard Court, have signed the historic document.
The other signatories to the agreement are the Federal Minister for the Environment, Robert Hill, the Federal Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, John Anderson, the WA Minister for Primary Industries, Monty House, the WA Minister for the Environment, Cheryl Edwardes, and the WA Minister for Water Resources, Dr Kim Hames.
Mr Fischer said finalising the first partnership agreement was an important milestone in progressing the largest environmental rescue effort in Australia's history.
"The Howard Government's $1.25 billion Natural Heritage Trust represents a new era for natural resources management in Australia, and requires cooperation and a strong commitment between the community and all levels of government," Mr Fischer said.
"This agreement sets out the delivery arrangements in Western Australia for the range of Commonwealth programs covered by the Trust.
"Trust funding to Western Australia for this financial year is expected to be in excess of $30 million following a comprehensive process of regional and State assessment in Western Australia that is almost complete.
"The recommendations for projects to be funded from the Natural Heritage Trust are expected to be provided to the Ministerial Board within the next few weeks, after which funding will commence to flow."
Senator Hill said the Trust will address the conservation of Western Australia's natural heritage in a more positive and integrated way.
"Importantly, the partnership agreement recognises that Trust activities must complement the conservation policies and strategies already in place in Western Australia, and will ensure a balance is achieved between biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture," he said.
"Salinity is one of Western Australia's most critical environmental threats and through the various Trust programs the Federal Coalition will provide significant funding to assist the State to implement its Salinity Action Plan," Mr Anderson said.
Mr Anderson said the Commonwealth would support a range of other significant initiatives in biodiversity conservation and natural resources management.
"The Western Australian Western Shield initiative that focuses on fox control for threatened species conservation will be another important program to receive Trust support," Mr Anderson said.
Mr Fischer said $30 million would be more than double Commonwealth funding for biodiversity conservation and natural resources management since last year, and reflects the Coalition's real commitment to assist in tackling major environmental problems.
"With an increased level of Natural Heritage Trust funds being available in future years, this figure is likely to rise in 1998/99 and following years," he said.
The partnership agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australian governments is due to be finalised in early August, and the remaining agreements with other States and Territories will be finalised soon after.
29 July 1997
Darryl Hockey (Mr Anderson's office) 0419 244 521
Matt Brown (Senator Hill's office) 06 277 7640
Gerard Early (Environment Australia) 06 250 0222
Tony Byrne (DPIE) 06 272 4624