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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

18 February 2000


Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Sharman Stone, today slammed the Australian Conservation Foundation comments on the achievements of the Federal Government's Natural Heritage Trust, saying they were a bad case of sour grapes.

"The ACF's comments about the achievements of the Trust are ill-informed and out-of-touch with the real environmental work that is happening in grass roots Australia," Sharman Stone said.

"Their comments are a kick in the teeth for ordinary Australians who have worked tirelessly to protect Australia's natural resources."

Dr Stone said the Mid-term Review Report stated that:

It is important to acknowledge and stress, that a great deal has been achieved in a very short time, in terms of implementing the strategies to achieve the overall purpose of the Trust.

More than 300,000 people have been involved in over 6,400 Trust projects around the country.

To date $695 million has been invested in projects to protect Australia's unique biological diversity and promote sustainable agriculture.

Far from being a "public relations exercise" the mid-term review of the Trust found that:

Overall revegetation is occurring, remnant vegetation is being protected, rivers are being fenced, and property management plans are being developed.

"The $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust is the biggest and most comprehensive environmental initiative that Australia has ever seen. Obviously there is some tweaking and fine-tuning that will have to occur," Sharman Stone said.

"How the ACF could comment on a Report that hasn't been released yet is astounding."

"Instead of making whingeing, ill-informed statements I suggest the ACF gets out of their ivory tower in Sydney and out into the real world. Clearly, they need to take a good, hard look at the results of thousands of hours of toil invested by local communities in the sustainable use and management our natural resources," Sharman Stone said.

"What better use for the proceeds of the partial sale of Telstra can there be than to retire debt and invest $1.5 billion in natural resource management."

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