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Media Release
Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage


Federal Budget 02-03


Coalition's Major Investment in Regional and Rural Australia


Many more community groups in Rural and Regional Australia will receive help to protect and repair their local environment through a $1 billion extension to the Natural Heritage Trust, according to Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone.

"The Natural Heritage Trust is already the largest environmental rescue package ever funded in Australia. This $1 billion extension means that hundreds more community groups will be able to restore, repair and rehabilitate our precious environment and natural resources", Sharman Stone said.

"The Trust has provided a major boost for environmental investment in rural and regional areas - for every one dollar that the Federal Government has invested, an additional seven dollars has been generated from local and state governments, non-government organisations and 'in-kind' donation of time and skills by volunteers", Sharman Stone said.

"The extension to the Trust will be complemented by the $1.4b National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality that is targeting 21 priority catchments or areas right across rural and regional Australia. The National Action Plan will set salinity, water quality and biodiversity goals to restore the health of our waterways and productive land - the backbone of Australia's horticultural and agricultural industries".

Other highlights from the Environment and Heritage portfolio for rural and regional areas include;

"This Government is making sure that we sensibly invest taxpayers dollars on the ground, rather than building bureaucracies in Canberra", Sharman Stone said.

"The $1billion, 5 year extension to the Trust, the $700m Salinity and Water Quality Action Plan, the development of further Bureau of Meteorology radar facilities and the new historic hotels preservation package all represent major investments in our rural communities".

"Contrast this with the Labor Party's environmental record. Not only did they oppose the creation of the Natural Heritage Trust in 1996, but have given no commitment to its continuation if they were ever elected", Sharman Stone said.

Contact:
Simon Frost (02) 6277 2016 or 0419 495 468

Commonwealth of Australia