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12 May 1998
The Howard Government has delivered on its commitment to protecting and restoring our natural heritage with a major increase in the Federal Budget for the Environment portfolio.
The 1998/99 Budget has allocated nearly $291 million to the environment program, up from $255m or 14% on last year's allocation. It also represents a 37% increase on expenditure on the environment program in Labor's final year in office.
This year's Budget includes a doubling of expenditure on vegetation initiatives and the first instalment of the Prime Minister's $177.9million package of greenhouse gas reduction measures.
RESTORING AUSTRALIA'S NATIVE VEGETATION
In 1998/99 the Commonwealth will spend $90.9million on vegetation programs - up from $46.6million in 1997/98.
The major increase in vegetation activities will be through the Bushcare component of the Natural Heritage Trust. In 1998/99 the Commonwealth will provide $77.1million (up from $40.6million in 1997/98) through Bushcare to landholders, land managers and the community for vegetation protection and revegetation initiatives.
The Trust will also provide $9.8million of the $13.8million Farm Forestry program.
In total, allocations from the Natural Heritage Trust will rise from $188.3m in 1997/98 to $294.5million in 1998/99 across the Environment and Primary Industries portfolios.
Total funding on Trust-related programs delivered through the partnership of Environment Australia and the Department of Primary Industries and Energy will be $372.4million in 1998/99, up from $294.5million last year.
GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTIONS - PLAYING OUR PART
Australia recently was among the first nations to sign the Kyoto Protocol which will see developed nations reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by more than 5% on 1990 levels by 2012.
A key factor in Australia securing a realistic but challenging target in the Kyoto negotiations was the Prime Minister's $177.9 million package of greenhouse gas reduction initiatives. It demonstrated to the world that Australia was prepared to accept a fair share of the burden.
The 1998/99 Budget provides $34.1million as the first instalment of this package. The main components of this year's spending will be:
These programs will be administered by the recently established Australian Greenhouse Office.
In addition to these measures, the Commonwealth will provide $3.9million for on-going climate change work.
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the Budget also delivers added impetus to the Howard government's efforts in a range of environmental challenges.
Senator Hill says the faith the community placed in the Howard Government's promise of a $1.25billion environmental repair fund has been justified.
"The Budget confirms that this government views the protection and restoration of our natural heritage as a top priority. Already more than 3,400 projects have been funded by the Natural Heritage Trust.
"The real success story of the Trust has been its ability to tap into the enthusiasm and commitment of local communities for environmental repair.
"We will continue to financially support community groups across Australia as they tackle the environmental challenges facing our nation."
The 1998/99 Federal Budget also delivers funding for a range of measures including:
FOR OUR RIVERS
FOR OUR BIODIVERSITY
FOR OUR ATMOSPHERE
FOR OUR LAND
FOR OUR SEAS
The Government will also release Australia's first Oceans Policy later this year.
FOR OUR SPECIAL PLACES
Senator Hill's office Matt Brown, (02) 6277 7640, 0419 693 515
Environment Australia Patrick Fletcher, (02) 6274 1959 (Coasts and Clean Seas, Forests)
Carmel Anderson, (02) 6250 0374 (Vegetation/Biodiversity/Land/Rivers)
Jim Cannon, (02) 6274 1076 (Environment Protection)
Louisa Eastmead, (02) 6217 2116 (World Heritage)
12 May 1998