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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
27 April 1998
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the Howard Government will support increased community efforts to protect the conservation values of the Lake Eyre Basin.
Senator Hill says that due to a lack of community and State government support the Commonwealth has decided not to pursue a proposed nomination for World Heritage Listing at this time on the basis that increased community efforts will deliver the best protection of the area’s conservation values.
The Lake Eyre Basin Reference Group appointed by the former Labor government to assess a potential nomination also was divided on whether to pursue a nomination.
Senator Hill says the efforts already being made by the local community to protect the conservation values of the region indicate a cooperative approach can deliver the best environmental outcome.
“The local community is responding positively to the challenges of protecting and managing this unique region. We applaud their efforts so far and commit to continuing support of their work. Their efforts have provided the foundation for the most effective means of protecting the Lake Eyre Basin.”
These community-based efforts are being built on at a government level through a Heads of Agreement signed by the Commonwealth, South Australian and Queensland governments.
Senator Hill says the key issue facing the Commonwealth is to ensure that those areas identified as having special conservation values be protected.
“The management and protection of such an enormous area can best be achieved through a cooperative approach.
“We are talking about conservation issues in a vast area which covers about one seventh of Australia’s land mass. The Lake Eyre Basin is a large, cross boundary resource with significant economic, social and environmental values.
“The Howard Government believes that the best way to protect the conservation values of the Lake Eyre Basin is to work with the States, local communities and other interested groups.
“To achieve this the Commonwealth has signed a Heads of Agreement in relation to the management of Lake Eyre Basin with the South Australian and Queensland governments.
“The Howard Government has also pledged its support for the implementation of that agreement. We are backing that support with more than half-a-million dollars from the Natural Heritage Trust.
“Through the Trust we are providing $156,000 to the Lake Eyre Basin Coordinating Committee to develop a community-based regional initiative to protect the conservation values of the Lake Eyre Basin. The Trust has also funded a Catchment Coordinator to support this committee’s work.
“The resulting Lake Eyre Basin Catchment Management Regional Initiative will identify management plans for the entire basin.
“The Natural Heritage Trust has also provided an additional $385,000 for specific projects under the National Landcare, Rivercare and Fisheries Action Programs.
Senator Hill says the Commonwealth will now focus on working with the Queensland and South Australian Governments to develop a formal, cooperative, inter-governmental agreement under the Heads of Agreement to provide a legislative base to support the community initiative.
The inter-governmental agreement will establish formal administrative arrangements for integrated catchment and water resource management within the Lake Eyre Basin.
Senator Hill says the inter-governmental agreement will ensure the Commonwealth continues to play an active role in supporting community efforts to protect and manage the Lake Eyre Basin.
Media contact - Matt Brown - 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515