14/03/2008 - 15:40

Fed Govt launches $2.25b environment program

14/03/2008 - 15:40

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State government ministers have welcomed the Australian Government's announcement of a new $2.25 billion, five-year program to revitalise Australia's environment and improve land management.

State government ministers have welcomed the Australian Government's announcement of a new $2.25 billion, five-year program to revitalise Australia's environment and improve land management.

The new 'one-stop shop' program will involve revamping the Natural Resource Management (NRM) program to replace the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, which are due to finish on June 30.

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said the new national program, to be known as 'Caring for our Country', recognised the importance of the unique natural environment throughout Australia, particularly Western Australia.

"The new program also acknowledges the success of the regional model for delivering NRM services and the achievements of the community-based regional NRM groups," he said.

"The Commonwealth's announcement guarantees ongoing funding for regional NRM groups and will ensure that they can continue to represent their communities and implement on-ground action to protect and enhance our natural environment."

Environment minister David Templeman said the funding announced by the Commonwealth would support the substantial annual expenditure on NRM and the environment by the Carpenter Government.

"Mr Chance and I look forward to an ongoing and effective partnership with the new Rudd Government to improve WA's natural environment," he said.

The ministers also welcomed the Commonwealth's identification of six priority areas, namely the national reserve system; biodiversity and natural icons; coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats; sustainable farm practices; natural resource management in remote and northern Australia; and community skills, knowledge and engagement.

"WA is the first state or territory to tackle cane toads before they reach the border and the Commonwealth's recognition of the need for a new national approach to cane toads as part of Caring for our Country will be critical in our fight against this menace," Mr Templeman said.

Mr Chance said state officials would be working with their Commonwealth counterparts to finalise details of the Caring for our Country program and ensure that there was a smooth transition to the new program.

He had also asked state officials to meet with the regional NRM groups as soon as possible to brief them on the new program and develop a plan for its implementation by July 1 this year.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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