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Senator the Hon. Robert Hill
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Budget 1999-2000
The Howard Government has built on its record of achieving more for the environment with the Federal Budget delivering funding for important new programmes promised prior to the last election.
Initiatives to protect our urban environment and our oceans are key elements of a $164 million budget allocation in the environment portfolio. Funding of these two commitments will complement the provision of a further $250 million in additional funding for the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) in 2001-2, contingent on the sale of the second tranche of Telstra.
"This budget continues the Coalition's historic record of unprecedented funding to protect and rehabilitate Australia's unique natural and cultural heritage," Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill said.
Urban environmental problems will be addressed by the new Living Cities Programme, with funding of $50.6 million over three years.
"Living in one of the world's most urbanised countries, we recognise the threats posed to the environment by the continuing growth of our major cities," Senator Hill said.
"This programme addresses problems such as air quality and waste disposal and it's a major step towards improving the quality of life for the millions of Australians who live in our vast urban areas."
The Budget provides $50 million for the implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy announced in December 1998. $20 million of this funding is to be levied from the NHT, contingent on the sale of the second tranche of Telstra. The programme leads the world in promoting ecologically sustainable development of ocean resources, encouraging internationally competitive marine industries and ensuring the protection of marine biological diversity.
The budget provides an additional $3.4 million over the next three years for improved surveillance and enforcement within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The funds will allow new high-tech boat monitoring systems to be introduced, targeting Dugong protection areas and other illegal fishing zones.
The Federal Government has underlined its commitment to protect Australia's heritage with a new grants programme. In 1999/2000, $4.1 million will be allocated to the Cultural Heritage Projects Programme (CHPP) to support the conservation of historic and indigenous places of cultural heritage significance.
The Commonwealth's Environment Protection Programme will receive $17.3 million in funding for a range of initiatives over the next four years. These include programmes to protect the quality of Australia's water supplies and to help business and industry adopt more sustainable and eco-efficient practices.
Research into climate change systems to help Australia meet greenhouse gas reduction targets will be supported by $14.2 million in Greenhouse Science funding over the next four years.
The Budget provides $3.5 million to repair roads on Norfolk Island badly damaged by the heavy rains of August last year. The work will ensure that there is no ongoing damage to the Island's annual 33,000-visitor tourist industry.
Media contact: Rod Bruem 02 62777640 0411 128 582