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Monday, 9 May 1994
Page: 403

Senator DEVEREUX —My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. In last Wednesday's job statement a number of environmental initiatives were included. Can the minister provide more details of these initiatives and their significance?

Senator FAULKNER —The environment will be a major beneficiary of the government's white paper initiatives. I welcome the new employment opportunities in the environment sector which have been identified. These include: a regional environment employment program, REEP; a major expansion of the landcare environment action program; an environmental traineeship scheme; and an environmental and policy analysis and research program in Senator Cook's portfolio. I expect that through these programs specifically, and through the other white paper initiatives more generally, the environment will benefit from a large share of the increased number of labour market program places.

  The regional environment employment program will not only provide jobs in regional areas where they are most needed, but will also enable regional environmental problems to be tackled in a strategic and coordinated way. It will provide at least 5,000 placements in the first year and 10,000 per year for the three years thereafter. This figure could be much higher, depending on the number and quality of the projects which are brought forward.

  Last Wednesday, the Minister for Employment, Education and Training and I announced a pilot scheme which will employ a similar approach to that which will be used in the REEP program. The project will provide $2.8 million for labour market program places to tackle environmental degradation problems on the Hawkesbury and Yarra River catchments. The successful LEAP program, which currently provides around 10,000 job places, will be more than doubled. An environmental traineeship will also be developed to offer approved training and provide key environmental skills. The size and success of the traineeship scheme will depend on industry response, but I am confident that government and industry will work together to realise the full potential of this program.

  The white paper contains a number of initiatives that will enhance the growth of the environment management business in Australia and its export. These include measures aimed at stimulating innovation and commercialisation in science and technology, and funding to establish an environmental policy analysis and research program within the industry, science and technology portfolio. This will enhance that department's ability to contribute to the development of environmental policies affecting industry.

  The importance given to the environment in the white paper is further evidence of the government's recognition that the environment is important to Australians, that environmental management is a rapidly growing industry and that looking after our environment does offer an ever increasing range and number of employment opportunities.