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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment


22 September 1998

The Coalition will provide $50 million to improve management and protection for Australia's marine environment, Federal Environment Minister, Robert Hill, announced today at the release of the Liberal and National Parties' environment policy - Our Living Heritage.

"During the past two years, the Howard/Fischer government has been developing a comprehensive oceans policy for Australia. We have also massively increased funding for coastal and marine programs - $125 million was allocated from the Natural Heritage Trust for our Coasts and Clean Seas program which is helping communities reduce marine pollution, protect marine species and rehabilitate stretches of our coastline. This financial year we will spend five times the amount Labor planned to spend in their last budget.

"This new funding, to be sourced from consolidated revenue and the Natural Heritage Trust, will support the implementation of the oceans policy, which will be completed immediately following the election," Senator Hill said.

"One of the key objectives of the oceans policy is to support coordinated and 'ecosystem' based management for our oceans.

"We want to ensure that all marine sectors are working together and that the environmentally artificial boundary between Commonwealth and State waters does not hinder sound management of our oceans.

"The Coalition will therefore establish a new Regional Marine Planning process which will be designed to protect the conservation values of our oceans and to provide long-term security to marine-based industries.

"For each region, the Plans will determine what areas should be assessed for inclusion in the marine park system, determine the long term needs of industry, establish gaps in our scientific knowledge and priorities for future scientific research.

"These Plans will ensure that increased marine resource use occurs sustainably and that we avoid the development of the type of conflicts that have surrounded the use of natural resources on land. While they will focus on Commonwealth waters, we will invite the States to participate in the development of the Plans to extend their coverage into State waters.

"The Regional Marine Plans will be considered by all relevant Ministers and, when finalised, will guide all Commonwealth marine agencies.

"Our oceans program will also support action to improve marine water quality. The Coalition will support the development of national marine and estuarine water quality standards through the National Environment Protection Council.

"We will also increase efforts to rehabilitate sites affected by acid sulfate soils and ban the use of the anti-fouling paint, trubutyltin, after 2006.

"These measures will build on the $50 million that the Howard/Fischer government allocated to the Clean Seas program to reduce sewage and stormwater pollution.

"We will increase funding for the declaration and management of Commonwealth marine parks. We strongly support the development of a network of marine parks to protect conservation values in our waters. So far, we have declared the world's second largest marine park in the Great Australian Bight and have announced our intention to establish parks in five other areas.

"This new funding will allow the federal government to increase its efforts to identify sites for marine parks and improve the management of those and existing parks.

"Our package also will increase support for efforts to avoid the introduction of exotic marine pests through ballast water and establish a national moorings program to protect sensitive marine environments from anchor drag."

Senator Hill said that the Coalition will also improve protection for threatened and endangered marine species.

"At the next meeting of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), a Coalition government will nominate the Great White Shark for listing to stop the international trade of this endangered species," Senator Hill said.

"We will also remove the blanket exemption currently given to marine species under the Wildlife Protection Act which controls the trade of native wildlife. In future, we will only exempt species that are harvested under ecosystem-based management plans.

"We will also complete a recovery plan for Australia's endangered turtles

"During the past two years, the Howard/Fischer government has significantly improved the federal government's efforts to protect our marine environment - an area largely neglected by the former Labor government.

This new package of measures will maintain that effort," Senator Hill said.

For further information:
Matt Brown 04 19 693 515

Commonwealth of Australia