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Joint Media Release
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment & Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
Greg Hunt MP
&
Federal Member for Mallee
John Forrest MP

29 July 2005

Hunt and Forrest call for the Victorian Government to endorse the Barkindji Biosphere


Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and John Forrest MP, Federal Member for Mallee, today said the failure of the Victorian Government to endorse the nomination of the Barkindji Bioshpere Reserve showed it was out of touch with the Mallee community.

"I had the good fortune to recently visit the Biosphere and meet with local landholders from both sides of the Murray, traditional owners and environmental groups and the message is clear - the story of the Barkindji Biosphere is one of success - for the environment, for practical reconciliation and for the longevity of this region," Mr Hunt said.

"It is simply unacceptable for the Victorian Government to ignore these values and the work done to protect and preserve the cultural and environmental values of this region for future generations.

"I join with John Forrest on calling on the Bracks Government to put their green credentials to the test and support the Biosphere. John continues to be a strong supporter of the Biosphere and its value as part of the UNESCO endorsed World Network of Biosphere Reserves and I thank him for his ongoing work and commitment."

Mr Forrest said the failure of the Victorian Government to endorse the Biosphere was a slap in the face of the importance of the Mallee as a thriving regional community.

"We know that Premier Bracks would rather put a toxic dump in our backyard than acknowledge the uniqueness of the Barkindji Biosphere and the potential for regional jobs growth in environmental and cultural tourism and education that can flow from supporting the Biosphere," Mr Forrest said.

"We have on our doorstep in Mildura for example, one of the most amazing inland wetlands with an abundance of birdlife and local indigenous species such as the Mallee Fowl and Regent Parrot.

"This site alone demonstrates the importance of endorsing the Biosphere - it helps ensures the future of native species and of this region through the involvement of local businesses, local landowners and traditional owners including greater opportunities for long-term jobs growth, particularly for local Indigenous communities.

"Premier Bracks failure to endorse the Biosphere suggests he has forgotten the importance of regional communities like Mildura and its contribution to both state and national economies and in delivering on the cultural and environmental values he so often lauds."

Media enquiries:
Fiona Murphy 0423 577 045 (Mr Hunt's office)
Sally Turvey 05032 4510 (Mr Forrest's office)

Commonwealth of Australia