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Budget 2008: Environment watch list: will the $200m community water grants program be axed?



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Media Release The Hon Greg Hunt MP Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Urban Water Budget Day ENVIRONMENT WATCH LIST WILL THE $200M COMMUNITY WATER GRANTS PROGRAM BE AXED? There are fears today’s Budget will see the axe fall on the highly successful and popular Community Water Grants program. The $200 million program provided grants of up to $50,000 to community groups to help them save water through projects such as harvesting rain or stormwater. The Coalition Government program has helped over 8,000 community groups and schools to save nearly 40,000 megalitres of water each year.* This is a program which not only saved water but also gave encouragement and leadership to thousands of students and people in the community to save water. The website for the grants program now has this short but ominous message: ‘Content on this web site is being reviewed’ (see www.communitywatergrants.gov.au). If Mr Garrett wants to be treated a bit more seriously he must continue the Coalition program in today’s Budget. Secondly, we continue to hold grave fears for the $1.6 billion to help farmers save water on their properties. The funding for on-farm efficiency gains was part of the Coalition’s original $10 billion national water plan. But the $1.6 billion appears to have evaporated when the Government revamped the package. Finally, will the Government respond to calls from business, the Coalition and even the CFMEU to set a Clean Energy Target? The Clean Energy Target goes further than a Mandatory Renewable Energy Target by not excluding clean coal or clean gas, as Labor has done. We have long supported the development of clean coal technology. But without the incentive for the market to take up the technology, it’s a bit like taking a horse to water and hoping it will drink. *(Note: one megalitre = one million litres) 1/…2.

BE ON THE LOOK-OUT FOR OLD NEWS

Today’s Budget will no doubt include a raft of re-announcements and re-badging of Coalition initiatives.

It’s a cynical process which we are seeing more and more from Labor on a regular basis.

They are copying Coalition announcements as their own.

This is the height of hypocrisy for Labor to now copy our climate and water announcements.

Here are five recent examples.

1. The re-announcement of the Coalition’s $79.5 million towards a major solar project at Mildura

2. The re-announcement of the Coalition’s $34.5 million water recycling project in Adelaide’s south

3. The re-announcement of the Coalition’s $20 million clean coal initiative with China

4. The re-announcement of the Coalition’s $10 billion national water plan

5. The re-badging of the Coalition’s $200 million Global Initiative on Forests and Climate as the $200 million International Forest Carbon Initiative.

Be on the lookout for more re-announcements and re-badgings in today’s Budget.

Media contact: John Deller on 0400 496 596