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Government welcomes native vegetation and biodiversity regulations report: joint media statement.



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JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT Treasurer

Minister for the environment and heritage Minister for transport and regional services Minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry

NO.066

GOVERNMENT WELCOMES NATIVE VEGETATION AND BIODIVERSITY REGULATIONS REPORT

The Australian Government has welcomed recommendations from an Inquiry into the Impacts of Native Vegetation and Biodiversity Regulations to increase landholder confidence in natural resource planning and regulation without sacrificing the country’s native flora and fauna.

The Productivity Commission Inquiry report into the Impacts of Native Vegetation and Biodiversity Regulations, tabled in parliament today, was supported by Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, Treasurer Peter Costello and Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss.

Mr Anderson said the Productivity Commission inquiry was initiated by the Australian Government in response to concerns by landholders and farmer organisations that the implementation of native vegetation and biodiversity regulations was having adverse impacts on some landholders.

“The Australian Government agrees with the Commission’s recommendations,” he said. “At the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, the Prime Minister will be asking the States and Territories to support the Commission’s recommendations to improve vegetation management.”

Senator Campbell said the analysis by the Productivity Commission offered valuable insight.

“The Commission has identified where existing approaches can be improved to reduce negative impacts on landholders while still achieving native vegetation and biodiversity objectives,” he said.

“It is particularly pleasing that the Commission has endorsed the approach the Government has taken under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

“Landholder confidence in natural resource planning and regulation must be increased without sacrificing environmental outcomes or the interests of the community. This requires transparency, accountability, statutory time frames for assessing permit applications and provision of accessible, timely and impartial appeals and dispute-resolution mechanisms.”

Mr Truss said that as the report had found that state native vegetation and biodiversity regulations were imposing significant and unnecessary costs on landholders, the Australian Government could not act alone to reduce the negative impacts of regulation on landholders.

“The Government will be looking to the States to bring their regulations into line with the Commission’s recommendations,” he said.

The report’s recommendations reflect the Australian Government’s approach through the $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust and $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. These two programs - the largest

environmental rescue plan in Australia’s history - draw on the extensive knowledge and expertise of landholders and local communities and are giving regional bodies greater autonomy to make collective land management decisions.

The Productivity Commission report’s recommendations and the Australian Government response are available on the Treasurer's website. Copies of the report may be downloaded from the Productivity Commission website.

CANBERRA 10 August 2004

Contacts:

Amanda Kennedy Treasurer’s Office 02 6277 7340

Wayne Grant Minister for the Environment and Heritage Office 0407 845 280

Paul Chamberlin Minister for Transport and Regional Services Office 02 6277 7680

Tim Langmead Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Office 02 6277 7520

© Commonwealth of Australia 2000